A Massachusetts bus driver was fired this week after he refused to pick up a black man because of his race.
According to the MV Times, the identified Vineyard Transit Authority driver was traveling from Edgartown to Oak Bluffs on Wednesday afternoon when he drove passed 35-year-old Kevin Brooks. The would-be passenger said he takes the bus regularly to commute to work and is usually told when the buses are at capacity. After the driver failed to stop for him, Brooks took an Uber to Oaks Bluffs, where he questioned the VTA employee about why he had left him behind.
The driver replied: “Well, it’s because you are black.”
“I am from the South. If I feel racism I deal with it,” Brooks told the Times. “For the first time in my life I had to swallow it. I’ve never felt more disrespected or belittled in my life. I had trouble sleeping that night.”
Brooks, who captured the confrontation on video, eventually notified the VTA and was reassured that the matter would be looked into. On Thursday, the VTA announced the driver in question had been terminated.
“Upon review of on-board 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,” the authority wrote in a press release.
“The VTA and their operating company, Transit Connection Inc., who manage the vehicle operators, have a zero tolerance policy for this type of behavior […] The vehicle operator involved in this incident has been terminated from employment, effective immediately.”
Brooks told the Times he doesn’t want to harm someone’s livelihood, but felt it was necessary to stand up for himself. He has since contacted a civil rights attorney.
“Maybe he was having a bad day and the wrong thing came out of his mouth,” Brooks said. “I’m not about any drama at all. I just want to provide for my family. I’m not here for a political debate.”