Flex(ing) Your Rights: How to Get Out of a Metro Search

From the Washington City Paper blog City Desk

A number of our readers have voiced their displeasure with the Metro Authority’s new bag check policy. Steven Silverman of Flex Your Rights and his army of interns know how you feel, and they’ve got some words of wisdom: “We encourage people to say–clearly, calmly, repectfully–’officer, I do not consent to any searches.’”

City Paper interviewed Silverman and crew – as well as a few bystanders – outside the Dupont Circle Metro station as they handed out flyers informing riders that they have the right to refuse a search of their bags. One interview subject argued that the policy could lead to bigger and badder things, like security checks on the street–another subject said that happens already.

Having trouble viewing the video? Click here.

Metro announced the policy on Monday, Oct. 27, citing the 3rd District Court of Appeals ruling in MacWade v. Kelly as legal grounds for voluntary searches for security purposes. But the new-born policy has plenty of detractors, like Flex Your Rights, which seeks to inform citizens on how to “protect your constitutional rights during police encounters,” and Students for Sensible Drug Policy, which opposes allowing transit police to use the searches as an opportunity drug seizures and arrests. Even the Post’s Robert Thomson–the man behind the Dr. Gridlock column–opposes  the initiative. Here’s what Thomson (who could be seen speaking to Silverman outside the Metro this afternoon) had to say about the policy:

I’ve been riding Metro for 20 years and never had a reason to reconsider it until now. I’m not afraid to ride the trains. I’m afraid of giving up the rights that hundreds of thousands of Americans did die to protect over the past couple hundred years.

Since the transit authority and it’s board chose not to discuss this with the public before implementing its random search policy today, it’s difficult for me to offer you a clear statement of why they think you should give up your right to be secure in your property for a $1.65 train ride.

City Desk on the new policy here and here.

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