MBTA Transit Police have investigated an incident first reported in a Facebook posting that has since gone viral about an incident on the T involving a group of black teens, a white security officer and what some described as rowdy behavior.
The incident, and comments it generated on social media, is just the latest mark of discord during a summer of unrest when polls show the nation feels racially divided in the wake of police shootings of unarmed black men, the shootings of police in Dallas and Baton Rouge by black men, and what some called racial animosity on display during the Republican National Convention.
Passenger Jamie Davenport, 23, took to social media, sharing her experience on the Red Line when a group of “about eight black kids from the ages of 12-16” boarded the train acting “loud and rowdy.”
She said the conductor asked the kids to quiet down, to which they responded by “mouthing off.” The conductor then reportedly called a security official, who announced he had called police and halted the train. When police arrived, they ordered the youths to leave the train, including a black 16-year-old who boarded at the same time as the group but told police he was traveling quietly and alone.
The teen was still being ordered off the train until Davenport rose to defend him and told police he was telling the truth.
“In a moment of temporary rage blindness I stand up and scream ‘He doesn’t … know those kids.’”
The police, according to Davenport, then release the teen and “he sits down across from me again. We share a moment of blankness and then tears well in both our eyes. He waves me over to the seat next to him. And he says, ‘that was because I am black. Wasn’t it?’“
MBTA Transit Police Superintendent Richard Sullivan confirmed much of the exchange, saying in a statement that “our officers conducted themselves with a calm and professional demeanor.” He said the one teen asked to exit the train “explained he was not with and/or associated with the group … confirmed by the larger group as well as an independent passenger.”
Sullivan said the department is reaching out to the teen, identified as Jelani, and his mother, Mercedes Farguarson.
Boston.com reports Farguarson got a call her from her son Jelani, who later arrived home after his curfew. She later found Davenport’s Facebook post, and Jelani confirmed from her photo that she was the passenger that stood up for him.
Davenport told the website “I was just reporting … I want to make sure the focus remains on what the post is about, and Black Lives Matter, and not me.”
Her post had over 90,000 shares as of Sunday afternoon.