The investigation into allegations that a TriMet operator kicked two teenage lesbians off a bus and called them "disgusting sickos"—the girls were kissing on the Number 12 bus on June 8—is slated to wrap up this week ["Gays off the Bus," News, June 14]. Meanwhile, folks on an unofficial email list are already gearing up to retaliate if the driver is fired, reportedly planning to block the girls from riding the bus.
"Don't forget we have the picture of the two 'girls' that are trying to get our brother fired!" someone dubbed "farelessfareevasionexcluded" wrote on the "TriMet Operators" Yahoo! group, which is not run by TriMet. "We can circulate the picture of the two and make sure they never get picked up by a TriMet bus again!"
Indeed, a picture of the two girls is posted on the group's website, with the caption, "We're so helpless! Save us from the mean bus driver!" The same person who posted the photos—with the nickname "margu43542"—wrote things like "see pic of the defenseless teens," and "thank god we have a union, the gay lobby is P-O-W-E-R-F-U-L in this city and they want [the driver's] head, he DOES NOT deserve to get fired over this."
"Margu43542" also wrote, "We have this poor driver on that HORRIBLE 12 line, in the middle of the afternoon, probably hassled and late, and now dealing with two obvious (just look at the picture of those two) juvenile delinquents who I am sure have no respect for any kind of authority, never mind a bus driver!" (The girls "both tutor special education kids," according to Ronnda Zezula, one of the girls' mom. "One won two scholastic achievement awards this year and the other is an honor roll student with a 3.8 GPA.")
The disparaging comments continued over at a blog called TriMet Blues, where a commenter called "dontell" linked to the Yahoo! group photo, with a note saying, "The other website has a picture of the two lying lesbo cunts."
And another person, commenting on the Mercury's Blogtown, PDX as "beenzy," also suggested the girls would be blocked from buses if the driver was fired.
Mary Fetsch, spokesperson for TriMet, says, "We have a zero tolerance policy for targeting someone to not be able to ride.
"The thing is," Fetsch added, "these are anonymous posts, so we don't know who's making them," which makes it difficult for TriMet to investigate.
However, "margu43542" has an online profile that, with a few clicks, leads to a person named Allen "AP" Margulies—whom Fetsch confirmed is a TriMet operator.
Reached on Tuesday afternoon, Margulies—who had never threatened to block the girls from boarding a bus, and says he does "not support that"—immediately offered to remove the photo, which he says he originally found on katu.com. "Anything that comes up in the news media, I post to the discussion group," he explained. "I didn't want to cause a problem, that wasn't the intent. It was not meant to be some kind of activist thing."
In regards to the threats to bar the girls, Margulies says he "saw somebody post something like that. It's just rhetoric, how could someone organize that? People say all kinds of stupid things in discussion groups."