The official ACLU chapters of Maryland, the District and Virginia joined together Thursday to announce a plan to sue Metro over the random and controversial bag searches that the system began late last year.
"Metro is on a collision course with the ACLU," D.C. Director Johnny Barnes said.
He stood outside the Metro headquarters in downtown Washington with representatives of the Maryland and Virginia chapters, as well as a group of law students from the David A. Clarke School of Law at the University of the District of Columbia.
Although the ACLU said the Metro system had rebuffed its efforts to meet and had not responded to a letter sent last year, Metro said right after the news conference that it would, indeed, meet with the ACLU to discuss its concerns.
The ACLU contends that the random bag searches interfere with the privacy rights of citizens in public places, hindering their travel and exposing them to unconstitutional search and seizure.
Similar lawsuits have been unsuccessful in New York and Boston.
The bag searches here are less well planned and more intrusive, Barnes said. Metro, which rejected bag searches in 2008, decided to do them in part to be eligible for $26 million in Homeland Security funds from the federal government.
Metro riders that spoke to NBC Washington Thursday were split over whether the searches are an unnecessary imposition on passengers or necessary for keeping the transit system safe.
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