A Martha’s Vineyard Transit Authority employee was immediately terminated after he refused to stop and pick up a Black man.
New Bedford barber Kevin Brooks takes the VTA on a consistent basis after getting off of work. The man told MV Times on Thursday he was waiting on the Route 13 bus and noticed it wasn’t preparing to stop.
Brooks said he waved his arms for the driver to come to a halt but the employee sped right past him. The barber paid for an Uber to Oak Bluffs and caught up with the bus. He approached the Vineyard operator and asked him why he didn’t stop. The unidentified employee responded, “Well, it’s because you are Black.”
The barber was stunned by the driver’s words and said he had “trouble sleeping that night.”
“I am from the south. If I feel racism I deal with it. For the first time in my life I had to swallow it. I’ve never felt more disrespected or belittled in my life,” Brooks said.
The victim informed the VTA’s corporate office, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and hired a civil rights lawyer to handle the pressing issue. “The video shows everything, that’s all I’ll say. This isn’t over, I want to get this out there,” he added.
The transit company reviewed the camera footage of the incident and fired the bus driver. They released a statement relaying that they have a “zero tolerance policy for this type of behavior” and agreed with the New Bedford resident.
The VTA release read, “Upon review of the onboard audio/video footage, it was determined the vehicle operator responded to the person’s inquiry by saying the bus was full, and when the person challenged this response, the operator stated ‘well, it’s because you are Black.'”
Brooks told the news outlet he didn’t want the driver to be fired. “Maybe he was having a bad day and the wrong thing came out of his mouth… I’m not about any drama at all. I just want to provide for my family. I’m not here for a political debate.”