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Pittsburgh School Board Comes Out in Opposition to Criminalizing Transit Riders

Image of Commuters on the T: Photo Credit Darrell Sapp/Post-Gazette

 

The Pittsburgh Public School board joins the Coalition against Policing on the T to endorse a civil fare checking process, with civilian fare ambassadors. Our gratitude is extended to Moira Kaleida, school board representative of Brookline and Beechview, for drafting the powerful letter, to which all board members signed on. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on their views, directed to the Port Authority:

“The board of Pittsburgh Public Schools is the latest group to oppose Port Authority’s controversial plan to have armed police check fares on light-rail vehicles.

In a Nov. 17 letter to incoming authority CEO Katharine Eagan Kelleman, the nine school directors echoed concerns from earlier this year that the idea could lead to deportations and confrontations between officers and immigrant students who may have language difficulties. Nearly 3,800 public, charter and private school students in Pittsburgh take public transit.

‘We have immigrant and refugees from all over the world who now call Pittsburgh their home. Using the current proposed system, PAT would essentially be creating a fare-evasion to deportation pipeline,’ the letter said.

‘Many of our students experience trauma on a daily basis, have had negative interactions with policeor simply cannot understand what is being said to them. Having someone who holds a gun confront a young person can be scary and may escalate the situation.'”

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Also, notably, incoming Port Authority CEO Kelleman is quoted saying that she was asked about her position on this policy as part of her job interview process:

“Ms. Kelleman said the subject came up in her job interviews with Port Authority and is likely “to be on my plate” immediately when she starts Jan. 16. She said she would consider how transit systems she’s worked at previously handled the matter.

“I would be shocked to find out that the Port Authority board is really focused on the law enforcement criminal aspects. That’s not our jam,” she said in an interview.

“It should be the goal for any transit entity to remove as many barriers as possible to use the service … If fare enforcement turns into a barrier, what have we accomplished?”

Find the whole article here.

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