Mercury Staff

A board member at David Douglas School District was arrested last month at a MAX station, and the ACLU is crying foul.

On March 13, Ana del Rocío was stopped at the Old Town Chinatown MAX station and asked about her fare. As Emilly Prado reported for the Mercury, a police report from that stop says del Rocío activated a digital pass on her phone before stepping off the train, but Del Rocío says she had left her paid annual TriMet pass at home and "was willing to take the citation and own that." She was arrested for refusing to provide identification and charged with Theft III of Services and Furnishing False Information to the Police, though the theft of services charge has since been dropped.

Del Rocío is being represented by the ACLU, which plans to fight the charge. Del Rocío goes by a different name than her legal name—Rosa Valderrama—which is the crux of this false information charge. It's common in the Latinx community to go by a different name than your legally given name, and some argue that she should not be charged for doing so. TriMet has posted its own version of events, but uses her legal name instead of her preferred name throughout the narrative.

According to Portland Monthly, "Del Rocío says she was asked to provide more identifying information than legally mandated."

The case has drawn a lot of attention on Twitter because of the racial implications of the case. A new hashtag has sprouted, pushed along by a Medium piece comparing this arrest to the recent arrest of two Black men in a Philadelphia Starbucks. Writer Glenn Fee points out that he is able to avoid detection when he rides without fare on TriMet due to the benefits of his white privilege: "I’m not proud of skirting the law, but I had the luxury of doing this because I am white, and I was confident that my race would protect me."

Dozens are now tweeting about riding TriMet using #TriMetWhileWhite.