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Metro: No ‘special train’ for white nationalists during upcoming Unite the Right rally

The demonstration is set to occur this Sunday amid significant track work

An August 2017 vigil outside the White House after the deadly Charlottesville, Virginia rally
AFP/Getty Images

Metro says it is not providing separate trains for protesters in the Unite the Right white nationalist rally set for Aug. 12 after conflicting information came out this past weekend.

“To be absolutely clear, Metro is not preparing a ‘special train’ for the private use of any group,” the regional transit authority says in a statement issued on Monday. “As with any ridership-generating event (e.g. large sporting events, concerts, Fourth of July celebrations, and many First Amendment demonstrations), Metro will be prepared to add trains as needed to address crowding if necessary.”

Before reversing course, Metro Board Chairman Jack Evans had told the Washington Post that Metro was weighing separate trains as part of larger security measures for the event. Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, Metro’s largest union, had warned of the potential situation last Friday, setting off a firestorm of speculation on social media.

“We draw the line at giving special accommodation to hate groups and hate speech,” the union’s president, Jackie Jeter, had said in a statement.

But Metro distanced itself from Evans’ and the union’s initial comments, telling the Post’s Faiz Siddiqui that “the only spokespeople for Metro are [General Manager] Paul Wiedefeld and his designees—i.e. not individual members of the board, elected, the union, etc.” Evans later said Metro would not be running separate trains or cars for any riders during the event.

Many of the people behind the D.C. rally are the same ones behind the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia a year ago that resulted in skirmishes and the death of a counter-protester. The 2018 rally is planned to occur in Lafayette Park, across from the White House.

It also comes as Metro is poised to begin major track repairs this weekend on the Blue, Orange, and Silver lines, which serve much of downtown. Metro says the construction work will produce significant delays, and acknowledges that “many participants” in the rally and associated counter-protests “may be planning to take rail.”

“Should platform crowding become a concern at any particular station, Metro Transit Police may temporarily restrict access for safety reasons, as they do routinely during large events,” the transit authority says. Metro adds that transit police are coordinating security with the D.C. police department, Virginia State Police, Fairfax County Police, the U.S. Secret Service, “and others.”

Here are additional details about rail service this weekend, via Metro:

On Saturday, August 11, and Sunday, August 12, Farragut West, McPherson Square, and Metro Center’s lower level will be closed. Limited shuttle bus service will replace trains between Foggy Bottom and Federal Triangle stations. Orange and Silver Line trains will operate every 12-15 minutes outside the shutdown area. (From Virginia, all Orange and Silver line trains will terminate at Foggy Bottom.) Blue Line trains will run between Franconia-Springfield and Arlington Cemetery only. All other stations (except for previously announced Red Line stations between NoMa-Gallaudet and Fort Totten) will be open.