Largest DC Metro union condemns transit system for handling of 'Unite the Right' rally

Largest DC Metro union condemns transit system for handling of 'Unite the Right' rally
© Greg Nash

The largest Washington, D.C., Metro union on Sunday condemned the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) for its handling of the white nationalist "Unite the Right 2" rally, claiming Metro gave "this hate group power by treating them like they are special." 

"There are dozens of transit police protecting the racist marchers but drivers on Metrobus never see police protection on their buses," ATU Local 689 said in a tweet on Sunday.

Law enforcement escorted the roughly 20 "Unite the Right 2" participants onto a Metro train car in Virginia on Sunday afternoon. Gates to the Vienna Metro station were temporarily closed for "crowd control" as the white nationalists entered, and videos show the train waited as all of them boarded. 

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In a statement to The Hill, a spokeswoman for WMATA insisted the demonstrators' train car was open to the public, and several reporters on board said passengers at other stations did not want to board a car filled with police officers and media.

Metro last week rescinded a proposal to provide a private Metro car for the white nationalists after blowback from multiple groups, including ATU Local 689, which stated it would not condone providing special treatment for hate groups. 

D.C. police told local outlet DCist that it reserved one car for the "Unite the Right 2" attendees. 

Counterprotesters at Lafayette Park throughout the day criticized the intense police protection given to the white nationalists, who were accompanied by law enforcement to and from the rally. 

One activist, speaking to a crowd of hundreds of counterprotesters, said WMATA and D.C. police had created a "whites-only car." 

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Sunday said "we feel strongly that [our approach of keeping rallygoers and counterprotesters separate] led to a relatively peaceful day," DCist reported.

Counterprotesters showed up to demonstrate against the white nationalist rally by the thousands, flooding the streets surrounding the White House as well as Lafayette Park.