WASHINGTON, D.C.–Today the Washington Lawyers’ Committee released a report focusing on the disparities in fare evasion enforcement by Metro Police. The 10 page report, titled “UNFAIR: Disparities in Fare Evasion Enforcement by Metro Police,” analyzes data provided by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) associated with Metro Police’s enforcement of the fare evasion law between January 1, 2016 and February 5, 2018. The data includes the race, age, and sex of anyone who was issued a warning or citation by Metro Police for fare evasion, and the location where each stop occurred.
Among the most critical findings of the review were as follows:
- Metro Police stopped more than 30,000 people for suspected fare evasion between January 2016 and February 5, 2018 and issued more than 20,000 citations/summons for fare evasion.
- The number of people who were given citations more than doubled between 2016 and 2017, and the number of people stopped and given a warning or a citations/summons almost doubled. Additionally, the percentage of people who were given a citations/summons instead of a warning has significantly increased. In 2016, 59% of people stopped were given a citation/summons. In 2017, 80% of the people stopped were given a citation/summons.
- Ninety-one percent of citations/summons were issued to Black people – 72% Black men, 20% Black women and 46% Black youth (under 25 years of age). Black children as young as seven have been stopped.
- Metro Police targeted stops heavily used by youth of color with 15% of all stops in or around Gallery Place and 14% in or around the Anacostia station.
WMATA’s own data clearly shows that Metro Police are enforcing the statute almost exclusively against Black people, particularly in African-American neighborhoods (Anacostia) or in parts of the City in which African Americans come in contact with Whites (Gallery Place Chinatown).
“It’s unthinkable to suggest that of all fare evasion that occurs, 30% of them only occur at two stops that primarily serve large African-American populations,” said Marques Banks, Equal Justice Works Fellow at the Washington Lawyers’ Committee. “This statistic alone suggests that the statute is not being enforced fairly.”
Greater Greater Washington
Director of Development & Communications
Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs
(202) 310-1000 Ext. 155
ABOUT THE WASHINGTON LAWYERS’ COMMITTEE: The Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs was established in 1968 to provide pro bono legal services to address issues of discrimination and entrenched poverty. Since then, it has successfully handled thousands of civil rights cases on behalf of individuals and groups in the areas of fair housing, equal employment opportunity, public accommodations, immigrant rights, disability rights, public education, and prisoners’ rights. For more information, please visit www.washlaw.org.