A group of Occupy protestors from San Diego were headed to Washington, D.C., where there’s a major protest (“Occupy Congress”) today, but on Saturday night (and early Sunday morning), all they could do was occupy the Amarillo Bus Terminal.
The protestors, now known as the Amarillo 13—or #Amarillo13, if you prefer—were reportedly confronted by a Greyhound bus driver, who attempted to kick the group off of his bus. As Russell Anglin of the Amarillo Globe-News reported, the driver has now been removed from duty, pending an investigation.
The way the Occupy group tells it, the driver of the 6:50 p.m. bus, who they’ve identified as Don Ainsworth (Greyhound has not confirmed his name), was hostile to them from the start, seemingly looking for an excuse to get rid of “all you Occupy people,” one of the group told Kristen Guilfoos of local CBS-affiliate KFDA.
“Once he identified that we were with the occupy movement, he made several comments to the effect of you’re not wanted in Washington DC either,” said Occupy’s Michael Ponser. “He definitely made it clear that he had a negative opinion of occupy in general. Several of the other passengers were complaining about his behavior and his attitude.”
The driver spent over an hour consulting with the Greyhound ticket agent and the Amarillo police, who ultimately backed his right to decide who could or couldn’t ride the bus.
The group took to social media, and through Twitter and Ustream, people (and other Occupy groups, including the one from Amarillo) began talking about the incident and flooding Greyhound’s switchboard.
At 12:29 p.m. on Sunday, @GreyhoundBus acknowledged the incident on Twitter:
Hi All, we are aware of the Occupy Congress situation. We have notified executive management. We appreciate your patience.
(The group ended up spending the night in Amarillo, but Greyhound eventually honored the tickets for a 6:50 a.m. bus.)
The Occupy people claim an Amarillo police officer privately told them this was not unusual behavior for the driver and that he “attempts to get people arrested without cause all the time.” Greyhound spokeswoman Jen Bittinger told the Globe-News, “He’s been a fine driver for us for the past 20 years.” Amarillo police corporal Jerry Neufeld said “When it comes to kicking people out, that was not our call. We didn’t even make a police report.”
The conservative site the Blaze gave this story even bigger play than Rachel Maddow, all the better to draw 278 comments, such as this one:
TEXANS occupy Texas. One big BOOT on the OWS, and DON’T come back!
Perhaps just as predictably, Current TV’s Keith Olbermann named the driver (who he also identified, as “Donald Ainsworth) and Greyhound as one of his “Worst Persons in the World:”