The Washington Post

D.C. taxicab politics, at ground level

Via the Shaw listserv and Prince of Petworth comes this video, recorded by Mount Vernon Square neighborhood activist Martin Moulton, of a D.C. cab driver being confronted by police after he refused to drive to the doorstep of Moulton’s workplace — the Rogue 24 restaurant, which happens to be located in an alley.

Moulton, the restaurant’s maitre d’, had called the cab for customers; he then went out to the street to hail the driver and direct it into the alley to pick up the customers. When the driver refused, Moulton got in the cab and called police.

The six-minute video illustrates a whole lot of common taxi-related issues coming together at once: (a) cab drivers’ fear of putting themselves in a position to become crime victims; (b) cab riders’ frustration at being told they cannot go where they want to go; and (c) the racial subtext underlying all of this — Moulton is black — best seen in the pointed questions a police officer asks the driver at about the 4:45 mark.

“What are you afraid of?” the officer asks.

“This business is not a good business,” the driver says. “You [get] scared sometimes.”

Says another officer, “So why did you get in this business, then?”

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.


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