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."
Dear @TriMet: Please tell the DA you want them to drop the charge against Ana del Rocio for providing a “false name” to police officers—the officers’ misunderstanding of her last name reveals their lack of understanding of Latinx culture. https://t.co/Tka8osAc47 #TriMetWhileWhite
— pdx law grrrl (@pdxlawgrrrl) April 27, 2018
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."
I once carelessly rode TriMet for almost 2 weeks before realizing my monthly pass had expired— mostly bus!
Read this piece by @glennfee addressing recent civil rights abuses in Portland's fare enforcement then RT w your story of riding #TriMetWhileWhite https://t.co/gXhTD94Qwl
— sarah iannarone (@sarahforpdx) April 26, 2018
Dozens are now tweeting about riding TriMet using #TriMetWhileWhite.
Yes I was an asshole. I am sorry. More to the point though: white people have the freedom to be assholes like this. Or to just make simple mistakes. POC in Portland don’t. I support Ana. #TriMetWhileWhite https://t.co/ezmSFhXhFr
— Cass Cole (@CassColePDX) April 27, 2018
Got caught drunk underage with no ticket. Was told to get off at my stop and to have a safe night. I've seen drivers kick POC off the bus for "being to loud" no warning just "off the bus or I'm calling the cops" #TriMetWhileWhite #ItsNotaMyth https://t.co/hxR24OskO9
— Zac Conklin-Farrell (@zacconklin) April 26, 2018
#TriMetWhileWhite: watched an elderly black man get harrassed by 3 officers when he couldn’t find his ticket (he had several on him). Got on bus to buy him a ticket, only had a $20 & driver printed FREE ticket for me b/c @trimet can’t do change. Officers still demanded his ID. pic.twitter.com/M8TrnkIJhG
— Danielle Alexander (@writedanielle) April 26, 2018
I commuted on TriMet almost daily for six years. I was asked to see my ticket less than a dozen times and the one time I had forgotten I was given the opportunity to get off at the next stop to fix the problem.
Drop the charges and apologize to Ana @trimet#TriMetWhileWhite
— Kip Silverman (@kipsilverman) April 27, 2018
i have a year pass that i barely have to flash and am sometimes waved through to check other fares and not necessarily from drivers i’ve seen before. #trimetwhilewhite https://t.co/Oov6ICPLi3
— •jerms• (@mattyjerms) April 27, 2018