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Metro union concerned about security plan for DC ‘Unite the Right’ event

FILE - People are thrown into the air as a car drives into a group of protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12, 2017. The white nationalists were holding the rally to protest plans by the city of Charlottesville to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. There were several hundred counterprotesters marching in a long line when the car drove into a group of them. (Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress via AP)/The Daily Progress via AP)

WASHINGTON — Regional security plans for a white supremacist rally Aug. 12 in D.C. could include an attempt to keep some “Unite the Right” attendees separate from other riders on Metro.

Those plans to keep the group separate from counterprotesters and other riders as they go from Vienna to Foggy Bottom and back triggered complaints Friday from Metro’s largest union.

Rally organizers have requested a permit for Lafayette Park near the White House to mark the anniversary of the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia. That day ended with three people dead: counterprotester Heather Heyer, who was run over by a driver linked to the rally, and two Virginia State Police troopers whose helicopter crashed. Many others were injured that day.

“Metro is working collaboratively with law enforcement to ensure safe travel for our customers and employees,” Metro spokeswoman Sherri Ly said in an email.

D.C.’s Police Department is taking primary responsibility for the event, working with the Metro Transit Police Department, Virginia State Police and other agencies. D.C. police have focused planning on keeping the “Unite the Right” and related groups separate from counterprotesters.

The details of the plan on Metro are not yet final, but could include isolating certain trains or train cars for certain rally attendees to separate them from other riders. Police could escort the group onto a specific train or car, but would not necessarily be able to require that the entire group stay together from the beginning of the day through to the end.

When plans are finalized, they are not expected to necessarily be publicly released due to the sensitivity surrounding security measures.

Metro’s largest union, which has separately threatened a strike, said it encouraged its members to follow safety protocols. However, the union also suggested it opposed the proposed special security measures.

“We draw the line at giving special accommodation to hate groups and hate speech,” Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 President Jackie Jeter said in a statement.

“The union has declared that it will not play a role in their special accommodation,” the statement said.

Aug. 12 also marks the second day of the latest round-the-clock work zone.

From then until Aug. 26, the Blue Line will only run between Franconia-Springfield and Arlington Cemetery. Orange and Silver Line trains are scheduled only every 20 minutes each, even at rush hour.

That work is in addition to the ongoing closure of the Rhode Island Avenue and Brookland stations on the Red Line, which lasts through Labor Day.


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