BART Official: Transparency on Crime Would Promote Racial Stereotypes
Bay Area Rapid Transit Assistant General Manager Kerry Hamill is taking flack for a peculiar July 7 memo in which she defended the agency’s decision to withhold information about crimes on its trains to prevent prejudice against people of color.
Some members of BART’s board of directors have criticized Hamill’s memo, which cited the media’s “disproportionate elevation” of crimes that “unfairly affect and characterize riders of color.”
“The memo was regrettable,” said BART Director Joel Keller. “Transparency trumps everything else. To not be willing to release information to the public because we think we know better what the public can handle is a mistake in my mind.”
But the memo is consistent with what board member Deborah Allen says she was told when it came to surveillance videos.
“To release these videos would create a high level of racially insensitive commentary toward the district,” it was explained to her. “And in addition it would create a racial bias in the riders against minorities on the trains.”
BART's recent lack of transparency on crime is galling. The agency stopped releasing a daily log of criminal incidents last month. In addition to the refusal to release surveillance videos of recent incidents, press releases about crimes have been conspicuously absent.
The board members say they will begin pressing for more transparency from the agency.