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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Metro Launches Investigation Into Offensive Image Found On Buses

LEFT PHOTO: A picture of a Metro bus that had the King County Metro logo with the image of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. replaced with a decal image of Adolf Hitler. RIGHT PHOTO: A picture showing the official King County logo with the image of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. located near the top of the bus.  

By Chris B. Bennett, The Seattle Medium

King County Metro has launched an “internal Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) investigation” into the placement of an offensive image on two Metro buses.

In memo sent to all Metro employees, Metro General Manager Terry White stated, “Late last week a decal image of Adolf Hitler was found on the exterior of two Metro buses similar in size and color to the image of Martin Luther King Jr. that is part of the King County Metro logo. The decal covered and defaced the image of MLK on the logo that appears near the top of our buses. This vandalism is clearly offensive, harmful to our employees and our community, and a form of hate speech.”

According to the memo, Metro has launched an internal investigation, and are in the process of inspecting their fleet to make sure no other images are circulating on vehicles in their system.

A photo of the second Metro bus that had the King County logo defaced and replaced with an image of Adolf Hitler. Photo courtesy of King County Metro.

“While it has not been determined where the image came from, we take this incident very seriously and do not tolerate inappropriate conduct, discrimination, harassment, or retaliation,” White stated in the memo. “All of us are responsible for creating a workplace that is free of harmful behavior.”

A number of Metro employees spoke with The Seattle Medium in anonymity regarding this issue. Most of them claim that they are not surprised by the alleged incident and claim that there are a “few bad apples who do subtle things from time to time, but there are others who are more out front with their disrespect and racial intolerance.” In addition, they claim that the placement of the image is in a location that is not easily accessible by someone just randomly or casually placing decals on a bus.

“It’s not like you can just jump up on the top of a bus and deface Dr. King’s image,” said one transit operator to The Seattle Medium. “You either need a ladder or be standing on some sort of platform. This is deliberate, this was calculated, it’s disgusting, it’s a shame and it needs to stop.”

This is not the first time that employees of King County Metro have been accused of defacing the image of Dr. King as part of the King County logo. In 2016, The Seattle Medium reported that transit workers were punching holes through the image of Dr. King on bus transfers in a place where there is no reason whatsoever to punch such a hole.

A 2016 memo sent out to employees by former Metro General Manger Rob Gannon stated, “Customers and operators alike have been noticing operators punching out the MLK logo on the transfers. This practice is unacceptable and needs to stop immediately.”

In addition, there were also reports at the time of county employees that refused to wear uniforms that had the county logo with the image of Dr. King. Instead, they chose to wear uniforms that had the old gold crown logo – even though, at the time, 8 years had passed since the implementation of the new King logo. It was also alleged that some employees would cover the King logo with tape or a patch while in uniform.

“Yeah, they refuse to wear it because they don’t want to wear the image of a Black man across their chest,” said one county employee, in a 2016 interview with The Seattle Medium when asked about the alleged actions of some of his fellow employees.

Since 2016, Metro has taken many steps eradicate inappropriate conduct, discrimination, harassment and retaliation – including developing programs such as leading with racial justice, establishing a workforce equity and social justice work plan.  In addition, they have added resources such as staffing EEO section, instituted anti-harassment, bias training, and established employee resource groups that focus on equity and inclusion.

This is a developing story and The Seattle Medium will update it as more information becomes available.

Related Stories:

Ensuring Metro Works, In A Spirit Of Inclusion And Diversity – The Seattle

MediumTransit Workers Disrespect Dr. King – The Seattle Medium

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