According to this blog post written by MVTA rider and Lakeville resident Kevin P. Roberson, another MVTA rider singled him out for playing his music loud enough for others to hear simply because he was a person of color. Eventually Mr. Roberson asked if the involved parties could take the discussion “outside” (off the bus) where it escalated far enough for the driver to call the police. While Mr. Roberson poses an interesting argument, according to documents released to Lazy Lightning by the MVTA this is not the first time Mr. Roberson has created problems on routes he has traveled and it may bring into question his motives.
Mr. Roberson makes mention of his disagreement with the way fares are paid on MVTA routes. He takes particular objection to having to pay as he exits the bus when traveling southbound and has, on at least two previous occasions, raised this issue with the driver and in one instance even argued with the driver while, “trying to block riders from exiting the bus.”
In this particular instance, however, he only takes issue with the fact that another rider asked him to turn down his music and how, being that he himself cannot hear the music from the headphones while they’re out of his ears even with the volume turned all the way up, it was due to his being of color.
From the blog post:
I was sitting in the fourth row from the front, next to a lady, and the bus was packed. All of a sudden a man turned around angry and stared at me. He was pointing down and mouthing that I turn down my music. I began laughing, told him to calm down, and that if he wanted to talk about it we could once we got off the bus.
From my evaluation of the course of events, I concluded that he singled me out because I was a person of color & my appearance. He didn’t even look at the other people that were listening to music right by him because they were White.
According to the driver’s report and that of an eye witness not involved in the altercation after the involved parties exited the bus, Mr. Roberson was the aggressor. The MVTA’s reports note that after Mr. Roberson exits the bus at a stop which he normally does not use (2nd Ave and 10th St instead of 2nd Ave and 4th) the driver feared the altercation would become physical and requested police presence. After reviewing the video feed of the incident, a Schmitty and Sons supervisor notes in the report that not much can be determined other than Mr. Roberson is asked not to take photos.
With a clear documented history of issues with MVTA policies and its drivers as well as the riders do you believe the account provided by Mr. Roberson himself is the most accurate version of events? Would you tell another rider to turn their music down, end their cell phone call, etc knowing it could escalate later? How about how the incident was handled by the MVTA’s driver? Do you believe that it’s their business to call the police following such an event? How about Mr. Roberson’s issues with how fares are paid (while entering the bus when going northbound and while exiting the bus when going southbound)? Whatever you have to say about Mr. Roberson’s verbal altercation while riding the bus go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear what you have to say.