Bus surveillance: you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone
He said, she said...it's one of the oldest paradoxes of all time. How can two disparate opinions regarding the same issue be resolved? For hundred of years, it was a decision founded on trust, but in recent years, security cameras and video surveillance have been helpful arbiters when these issues arise. Officials at Trimet, Portland OR's public transit bureau, have come to painfully understand this dilemma in the past week.
Jocelyn O'Neal and Maika Rich, a 14 year old couple, were showing affection for each other on a busier Portland bus route when - and here is where the accounts start to differ - the driver asked the girls to stop. Conflicting accounts say the driver, who is on leave until the situation is resolved, called the girls "sickos" and forced them off the bus. Others say that the bus driver acted the same with Rich and O'Neal as he would with any other couple, regardless of age, gender, or sexual orientation.
The girls, who were on their way to the Sexual Minority Youth Resources Center were visibly upset and have been the focus of local news outlets since the story broke. The driver, who is on leave until the situation is resolved, insists that his actions were legal. Trimet has come forward to say that they do not permit discrimination against age, race, religion, sexual orientation, physical disability, or national origin, and that they are working toward a solution. Rich, O'Neal, and their supporters have said that the girls were treated unfairly. It's a classic example of he said, she said with no end in sight. The bus had no surveillance cameras on board - somewhat anomalous for TriMet vehicles - which makes determining truth and blame in this situation that much more difficult.
For anyone who was on the bus - the #12, Barbur Blvd, when the incident occured, TriMet is urging you to call in and report what you saw (503)238-7433
Read about the camera quandary at the Portland Mercury (second story down)