D.C. Metro Scraps Plan For Private Train Cars For White Supremacist Rally

Washington, D.C.'s Metro system has scrapped any plan to give participants in next week's white supremacist rally private train cars.

As I noted yesterday, Washington D.C.’s Metro system was considering the idea of using private train cars to transport participants in next Sunday’s “Unite The Right” rally, which is taking place on the first anniversary of a similar march in Charlottesville, Virginia a year ago that resulted in the death of a counter-protester at the hands of a white supremacist. Now, the head of the Metro system is saying that any plan for such accommodations has been scrapped:

A day after saying Metro was considering providing separate trains for opposing groups during the “Unite the Right” rally in D.C. on Aug. 12, the chairman of the transit agency’s board now says there will not be any separation.

“Metro will not be having a separate train, or a separate car, or anything separate for anybody at this event that’s gonna happen next Sunday,” Evans told News4 on Saturday.

When asked if he regretted that a plan to consider separating protesters was under consideration in light of public backlash to the idea, Evans said, “it was never under consideration.”

But on Friday, Evans told News4, “We’d like to keep the groups separate. We don’t want incidents on Metro.”

“Unite the Right” demonstrators plan to use Metro from the Vienna, Virginia, station to Foggy Bottom in D.C.

“Maybe put all of one group on a train or a certain car on a train,” Evans said on Friday. “We’re trying to see how can we keep the groups separate so we don’t have any incidents but not put in place programs that could be problematic in the future.”

Metro’s largest union, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, sources said a group affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan would be provided with three private Metrorail cars.

Evans referenced the union’s statement Saturday, saying, “I don’t know where they got that information from. I have never been part of any discussion that considered having a separate car or a separate train for anybody at that event.”


Evans said Friday that D.C. police planned to provide an escort for the protesters from Foggy Bottom to the White House.

However, D.C. police said in a statement Saturday that there is no plan to provide a police escort.

“The Metropolitan Police Department does not act in the capacity of private security for any group. Our role is to facilitate a safe first amendment demonstration,” the department said. “There is no plan to provide a police escort for the group. As Chief Newsham has mentioned previously, our goal is to maintain separation between the demonstrators and other groups.”

The National Park Service gave initial approval for the application for an Aug. 12 “white civil rights” rally at Lafayette Square, near the White House.

Four counterdemonstration applications have been filed as well, according to the National Park Service, but no permits have been issued yet.

More from The Washington Post:

Metro is no longer considering running separate trains for protesters participating in the Aug. 12 “Unite the Right” white nationalists rally in the District, the transit agency’s board chairman said Saturday.

Metro Board Chairman Jack Evans had previously said that running a separate train was among options being weighed by officials.

“Metro will not be providing a special train or special car for anyone next Sunday,” Evans said.

Word about the possibility of the service for rallygoers spread quickly Friday and Saturday, drawing condemnation from those who decried “special treatment” for white nationalist groups, which are focused on the goal of achieving a whites-only state or the separation of whites from other groups. Others thought the possible move to constitute a form of segregation.

Evans had said that Metro was simply exploring every option to prevent violence between rally participants and counterprotesters.

“We’re just trying to come up with potential solutions on how to keep everybody safe,” he said of discussions with D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham and Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld, who would have the final say on extra security measures.

The event is being organized by the group behind the rally in Charlottesville last summer that led to protests, violent clashes and the death of a counterprotester. Two Virginia state troopers conducting surveillance of the event were also killed when their helicopter crashed.

Jason Kessler, a white nationalist who organized the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville with Richard Spencer and other white-supremacist leaders, submitted a Mall Special Event permit request on May 8 to hold a “white civil rights” rally in Northwest Washington’s Lafayette Square to protest “civil rights abuse in Charlottesville.”

Evans, who is also a Democratic D.C. Council member representing Ward 2, said officials are concerned that the event could lead to physical clashes between rally attendees and those who may come out in droves to protest their presence.

“We’re not trying to give anyone special treatment,” Evans said. “We’re just trying to avoid scuffles and things of that nature.”

Evans said that officials also are considering increasing police presence on trains.

“Frankly, we don’t know who’s coming, how many people we’re expecting for this thing, and whether it’s actually going to happen at all,” Evans said.

But the board chairman said the transit agency must take steps to ensure safety for all riders.

“If we did nothing and there were clashes and people were hurt or killed, you’d be all over us,” he said.

As I said yesterday, it’s understandable that Metro and law enforcement would want to minimize the potential for confrontations between rally participants and either counter-protesters or members of the general public. This is especially true given the racial overtones of the message the rally carries with it. At the same time, though, the idea of giving a group like this private cars, something which apparently never been done in the history of the Metro system, seemed to be over the top and, on some level, offensive given the message this rally is intended to send. These white supremacists have the same First Amendment rights the rest of us do, of course, but they don’t have a right to preferential treatment.

FILED UNDER: Race and Politics, US Politics, , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    but they don’t have a right to preferential treatment.

    Yes they do, just ask them.

  2. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I gotta agree with ol’ Ozark here that there is something ironic about we “normals” just taking it for granted that they shouldn’t expect preferential treatment since that is the point of their whole movement – that whites are a privileged group and should expect deference and special accommodations.

  3. MarkedMan says:

    This is only tangentially relevant to train cars but may offer some insight on how to view these white supremists. In 1977 or 78 I lived a few miles from Bogan High School on the South Side of Chicago (and actually took my drivers ed classes there). It was he last public high school to be integrated in the district. It was ugly, with women in curlers and slippers and house coats lined up along the bus routes, faces twisted in animal hate, screaming until their eyes were bugging out, spitting on the windows of the busses as they rolled by. Not exactly an ad for the supremacy of the white race. After a couple of days the media mostly stopped reporting on it and a week or so after that the moms stopped lining the streets. But the racial animosity continued and the Neo-Nazis became big players. (The movie “The Blues Brothers” which came out around then had a couple of hapless Nazi characters inspired by these clowns.)

    I worked with a guy, Danny, in the kitchen of a hospital. Danny and I both liked to feed the giant continuous conveyor dishwashers, a dirty hot sweaty noisy job that gave you a real workout but also put you way in the back, with just the two feeders and where you could sneak a smoke. We had the occasional work function or spontaneous gathering and sometimes Danny would show up. I’d hang with him a bit and we would also sometimes hang with two black guys who worked there.

    Here’s the thing though. Danny was a Neo Nazi. And not like in an intellectual kind of way. Heck, Danny never talked much at all. No. There was a park near Bogan that had become a symbolic last stand. At night the young white toughs would patrol the park with portable CB radios and if any blacks showed up they would broadcast the alert and converge and chase them away or, if they caught them, beat the living sh*t out of them. Every night after work Danny would head to the park.

    One night he and I were feeding the twin machines and, as we did, we filled the belt to the max, knowing that it would overload the “catchers” thirty feet away, on the other side of the cleaning tunnel. Once they couldn’t keep up the belt would stop and Danny and I would lean back against the wall and take a smoke break. One night I asked him, “if you’re a Nazi why do you hang out with Charles and Lionel when we go out?” He looked at me like I was an idiot. “I’m not a Nazi because I believe that sh*t. I just like to fight.”

  4. Mr. Prosser says:

    @MarkedMan: @MarkedMan: I don’t think it matters what Danny believed. Danny didn’t like to fight, as in Fight Club fighting, he liked to run in gangs and, as you describe it, “beat the sh*t out of them.” Basically a Brownshirt.

  5. Kathy says:

    “The Metropolitan Police Department does not act in the capacity of private security for any group. Our role is to facilitate a safe first amendment demonstration,” the department said.

    Exactly. And the DC subway does not have an obligation to provide private transportation.

    The White Trash gathering at DC have a right to do so, and the city has an obligation to respect their rights, and to provide overall security for public events. But that’s it. There is no obligation to guarantee they’ll get there unmolested or at all. There’s no obligation to provide them with transportation, or to insure their comfort, or to protect their snowflake sensibilities.

  6. MarkedMan says:

    @Mr. Prosser: Oh. Absolutely. In fact, literally a Brownshirt. I’m not trying to justify Danny’s behavior in any way, or lessen it. My point in telling this story is that people associating themselves with any group have disparate motives. If you look at what happened in Charlottesville it’s pretty obvious that a lot of the alt-right came because they wanted a fight. There’s a reassuring meme that these guys are just cowards, and the “Crying Nazi” video shows the norm. This is dangerously naive. Danny was no coward.

    Frequent readers of this comment section know one of my hobbyhorses is the futility of “arguing” with our half dozen Trumpoids. Danny is an extreme example. Did he believe in Neo Nazi propaganda? It’s a meaningless question. He wasn’t there because of that. He wanted to fight. Regardless of his beliefs he was certainly not the type of guy who would go around trying to convince people one way or another. About anything. But I have no problem imagining him watching for the slogans or symbols that were most likely to goad the counter-protesters into anger. That’s all he was after. I shouldn’t play amateur psychologist here as neither Danny nor I were ones to talk much about feelings, but I would imagine that if found himself at a protest with someone trying desperately to convince him that his political or racial beliefs were wrong he would think it kinda funny. And then go right back to thinking, “Hmmm, if I say this or do that would I be able to ramp them and their friends up even more?”

  7. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: It’s NOT *preferential treatment;* it’s the exact same treatment that everyone who is not a mud person is entitled to.

    Try to stay on message here; it’s important.

    ETA: @ Mr. Prosser: Exactly!

  8. Kylopod says:


    Frequent readers of this comment section know one of my hobbyhorses is the futility of “arguing” with our half dozen Trumpoids.

    I don’t think that’s the same thing. I believe it’s vitally important that we be able to answer their arguments. Too many liberals seem to want to avoid it, either by ignoring them altogether or by responding with snark. It’s true that many of the people who post these comments are simply trolls craving attention. But reading these forums, what I see is that just about any commenter who challenges the liberal consensus, no matter how politely or openmindedly, is likely to get at least one response along the lines of “How’s the vodka taste, comrade?”

    Moreover, it isn’t just the commenters we have to take into account, but also the lurkers. Nobody here–and I repeat nobody–is under the illusion that we’re going to get MBunge or JKB or Guarneri to see the error of their ways. But that doesn’t mean engaging with them is the equivalent of fighting the guys with tiki torches. There may well be people reading these forums who are quite open to being swayed one way or the other depending on how we respond. And even if you’re doubtful that’s going to happen online, you’ve certainly encountered people in the real world who make many of the same arguments. I’ve come across quite a few impressionable young people parroting this stuff simply because it’s what they’ve been exposed to, and some of them are very open to listening if we give them the chance. Dismissing them all as trolls who just want to fight is, I believe, ultimately counterproductive.

  9. Michael Reynolds says:

    Good story. Emotional need (I want to fight) precedes ideology. Ideology IMO serves as a justification for pre-existing desires, needs, hates, etc… Just look how quickly ‘conservatives’ tossed 40 years of Reagan overboard for Trump. Reagan offered only watered-down bigotry as a sort of side dish to this main thrust of enriching the rich; Trump dishes it out un-adulterated, and as the main course. So it’s bye-bye Saint Ronnie, hello Cult Leader.

    I doubt most death camp guards were ideological, they were just brutal thugs looking to get paid for being brutal thugs. They did the Nazis’ work without necessarily giving a damn one way or the other about the ideology. The ideology acted as a framework, as a sort of social safety net to protect murderers, just as Trumpism affords a framework for deplorable people to allow them to feel less like the pariahs they are and should be. But the insecurity, the hate, the fear, the need for significance, the need to be superior, these come before the extremist ideology.

  10. Mr. Prosser says:

    @Michael Reynolds: ” But the insecurity, the hate, the fear, the need for significance, the need to be superior, these come before the extremist ideology.” Exactly. Last week I read a line in one blog or another (may have been OTB) that stated that fascism isn’t so much an ideology as a system. I think that’s true, it doesn’t matter what the baseline belief is: nationalism, white supremacy, tribalism, etc. Fascism is the means to power, ideology is the excuse.

  11. Mr. Prosser says:

    @Mr. Prosser: In fact, one could make the argument the modern Communist and Russian systems use a fascist structure, ie. police state, camps, an economic hierarchy, etc. with Marxism as a cover no one gives a d*mn about.

  12. Kathy says:

    (imaginary) Tabloid headline: White Trash pickup cancelled at DC subway.

  13. Kylopod says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Racism and sociopathy are forces that often work together toward the same results. Some of the perpetrators of the Holocaust were complete monsters (like Amon Goeth from Schindler’s List), but there were others who committed massive atrocities while carrying a certain amount of guilt over it; indeed, the gas chambers were partly designed to conceal the Nazis from the horrors of what they were doing.

    Racism could be defined as a mechanism for reducing empathy. By depicting another group as strange and alien and threatening, it lessens people’s tendency to put themselves in the other group’s place. For those who are lacking in that tendency to begin with, this framework is useful merely as a pretext. But it can also have a powerful effect on people who can be caring and compassionate in at least some situations. I’ve encountered many Trumpists for whom the policy of forced family separation at the border makes them queasy–though they’re quick to rationalize it, and never for a moment to blame their dear leader.

  14. Kathy says:

    @Mr. Prosser:

    Last week I read a line in one blog or another (may have been OTB) that stated that fascism isn’t so much an ideology as a system.

    Many modern historians struggle to classify fascism as a political ideology. Just comparing Italy and Germany in the 30s and 40s yields major headaches. IMO, the judgment that it’s a system and not an ideology is spot on. Unless absolute dictatorial rule is an ideology.

    And that was also very close to the system implanted in Soviet Russia by Lenin and co., and then refined and extended by Stalin. This was copied by many latter Communist countries, especially those in Russia’s direct sphere of influence.

    Looking back, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact which joined the USSR to Nazi Germany in 1939 makes perfect sense, even though Stalin was Hitler’s rival for the domination of Europe.

    It worked rather well, for Germany. It allowed the Nazis to catch Stalin off-guard when they invaded. On the other hand, they did invade. It’s always a mistake to invade Russia, unless you can wrap things up before the Fall.

  15. gVOR08 says:

    I haven’t read Hanna Arendt. I may soon. I’m reading Corey Robin, Fear; The History of a Political Idea.

    Among ideology’s great appeals was that it spoke to the mass’s sense of superfluousness and loneliness. Men and women, Arendt argued, were not drawn to ideologies like anti-Semitism or communism because they offered attractive ideals of a new world—a classless society—or promised concrete benefits—that German Aryans would one day rule the earth. Rather, it was the act of believing in ideology, she argued, not the content of the ideology itself, that mattered. It wasn’t what the ideology said, but what it did: relieve the mass of its anxiety.

  16. MarkedMan says:

    @Kylopod: [Up on the hobbyhorse…] Sure, it’s important to address arguments that are out there. I’m not suggesting otherwise. FWIW, although I normally avoid their posts, on occasion I might accidentally read one and may debunk an argument in them. But I don’t respond directly to them and I don’t mention them by name. “Some people have said…” or “Trumpoids claim…” is sufficient. If people ignored them they would eventually go away. And of course I know that people can’t resist giving them a piece of their minds. [… down off the hobbyhorse]

  17. Tyrell says:

    Rioting and violence in Portland: no surprise. I have not got to read the details, but the pattern is probably familiar: police and the news people have seen it time and again. It starts off peaceful. Then unknown outsiders sneak in, usually later at night and that is when the violence starts. The peaceful protesters then start leaving. These outsiders are trained and have resources. Then they sneak back out after the destruction. It is all planned. The same thing happened in the 1960’s.
    Police need to keep outsiders out, no matter which side or faction they are in. Period.
    The various factions must be kept apart: blocks apart.
    The National Guard needs to be there ahead of time.
    There needs to be a set time limit. After that anyone on the streets is arrested and locked up on the spot.
    Anyone participating needs to have their background checked and tracked. Who knows what they may be planning for the future?
    Some judges need to be there to support the police immediately mete out justice. Not a time for “soft on crime”.
    I am all in favor of freedom of speech, expression, and assembly. But that comes with responsibility. When things start getting rough, the authorities can’t be worrying about somebody’s right to act up.

  18. Monala says:

    @Kathy: I can’t help but recall the irony of a group of Tea Party activists heading to an anti-big government protests in DC back in 2009 or 2010, who complained that there weren’t more trains running. See, they didn’t like having to wait to get where they were going.

  19. Monala says:

    @gVOR08: I was once part of an extreme religious group, and that ideology had the opposite effect on me. I was always anxious, because real life provides a lot of examples that are contrary to a strict ideology. The result is ongoing cognitive dissonance. You have to try to find ways to explain away the evidence you are seeing in order to maintain fidelity to your ideology, and that is very anxiety-producing.

  20. gVOR08 says:

    @Monala: But you’re rational, well informed, and I would guess reasonably well educated. The cognitive dissonance doesn’t seem to be a problem for most of the fundies and alt Rightists and Trumpskyites. Also, they have the support of the whole Right Wing media industry that exists largely to provide rationalizations and alt facts to explain away any discrepancies.