PORTLAND, Ore. -- Attorney General Rosenblum announced today that the state would not appeal the ruling in State v. Valderrama, which found that TriMet fare enforcement against Ana del Rocío was unconstitutional. The Marion County District Attorney, who was prosecuting the case on behalf of the Multnomah County District Attorney, also dropped the charges against del Rocío.
Del Rocío was represented pro bono by Noah Horst and Jesse Merrithew with Levi Merrithew Horst PC on behalf of the ACLU of Oregon, as well as Mat dos Santos and Leland Baxter-Neal of the ACLU of Oregon, and Portland-based defense attorney John Schlosser.
Ana del Rocío had the following comment:
“This fight was never about me — it was about all of the people who have been unjustly harmed by Trimet’s unconstitutional enforcement practices. Attorney General Rosenblum made the right decision. The focus now should be on our continual efforts to make transit more accessible to those who need it. And my focus personally will be on putting this nightmare behind me so that I can finally get back to my children and my work serving this community.”
Shawn Fleek, OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon spokesperson:
“We applaud the attorney general for standing on the right side of history. Transit riders deserve better than police targeting and unconstitutional harassment. We deserve for our struggles to be respected, and our demands met. We envision a system where a case such as Ana’s simply cannot happen. The future of mass transit is fareless and decriminalized. It is lower-cost, with better services for those who ride. It is not militarized, enclosed, or running its own unaccountable transit police division. Anyone who believes in racial and economic justice, and anyone who wants to solve our transportation crisis and reduce climate pollution should support this vision.
“If TriMet continues these fare sweeps, they invite a civil rights lawsuit that will ultimately cost our community. Public resources are better spent on fare reduction and service. We know from experience that TriMet is sometimes resistant to progress, but when riders and our allies stand together, we can win.”
Mat dos Santos, ACLU of Oregon legal director, had the following comment:
“We are pleased that the attorney general did not appeal Judge Wittmayer’s ruling last month holding that TriMet violated the constitutional rights of our client when she was stopped without individualized suspicion to check her fare after she exited the MAX train.
“For too long, TriMet has criminalized riders without fare and has subjected all riders, with or without fare, to suspicionless searches that violate the constitution. We hoped that TriMet would embraced the changes that are called for here. It is beyond disappointing that, since the judge’s ruling, they have continued their flawed fare enforcement approach without addressing the underlying problems with this unfair system.
“By continuing to conduct fare enforcement in an unconstitutional manner, TriMet is inviting further litigation. The judge is clear that having law enforcement officers on standby to cite and arrest people as they leave TriMet transportation is a violation of Oregon’s constitutional protection to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.
“Our public transit system benefits all of us in the region, whether or not we ride, by getting families to and from work and school and reducing traffic congestion. But for many, TriMet has also been an entry into the criminal justice system. It is disturbing that TriMet maintains an extensive infrastructure to criminalize people that includes funding their own prosecutor, transit police, and fare enforcement personnel to criminally pursue $2.50 per person. The magnitude of TriMet’s apparatus has had significant and harmful effects on our most vulnerable residents.”
- 9/21/2018: Judge Rules TriMet Fare Enforcement Unconstitutional (press release)
- 4/27/2018: “What’s Your Name?” Ana del Rocío's TriMet Nightmare (by Mat dos Santos)
- 4/27/2018: The Storny of my name (by Ana del Rocío)