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Transgender Community Asks for Apology, not Jail, Following MARTA Attack

Two uniformed MARTA Police Dept. officers were present at Tuesday's town hall forum addressing a recent attack of two transgender people on a MARTA train. Some feel officers failed to do enough to protect the two women.
Two uniformed MARTA Police Dept. officers were present at Tuesday's town hall forum addressing a recent attack of two transgender people on a MARTA train. Some feel officers failed to do enough to protect the two women.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

Members of Atlanta’s transgender community say they want an apology from – and not jail time for – two men accused of attacking two trans women on a MARTA train.

An audio version of this story

The calls came at a town hall meeting Tuesday night, two weeks after a video went viral showing the men first harassing, then hitting, two transgender women on a MARTA train. A brawl breaks out. No one steps in. (The graphic video, unedited, is posted on the website FlyVidz.com.)

The two transgender women were not present at the meeting, held by the Solutions Not Punishment Coalition at Atlanta’s Phillip Rush center. Organizers say the women fled the state out of fear. 

But one victim addressed the crowd via video.

“I don’t feel safe coming downtown,” she says in the video, adding she shouldn’t be harassed because she paid the MARTA fare just like everyone else. 

MARTA police maintain they acted with immediacy and “by the book” when responding to the attack.   

“We don’t condone any type of violence that takes place anywhere in our system,” Deputy MARTA Police Chief Joe Dorsey told the gathering.  Dorsey was one of two uniformed MARTA officers at the meeting.  He said, for now, the two suspects are charged with disorderly conduct and not battery.

“We need a victim to be able to charge [the two suspects] with battery,” he said. 

The women have not contacted police out of fear they could be arrested. MARTA officers assured the group they see the women as the victims, not the perpetrators.

But despite universal calls for justice, many in attendance didn’t think think the men should face jail time.

“What we’re doing is following the lead of the survivors,” said SNaP Coalition’s Everette Thompson. He says the two trans women want an apology, and not retribution. 

In addition to an apology, members of the transgender community called on the city as a whole to address what they call widespread transphobia and violence against those who don’t conform to traditional gender roles.

A second town hall meeting is planned for Wednesday.

Two suspects shown in the video have been arrested. 

MARTA declined further comment, citing its ongoing investigation.