April 2, 2013

Metrorail rider kicked off train for singing gospel files lawsuit

An 82-year-old Brownsville woman has filed suit against 50 State Security Services and a Metrorail guard who pulled her off a train for singing a hymn.

Emma Anderson, the 82-year old woman who was removed from a Metrorail car for belting out a gospel tune, has filed a lawsuit seeking damages.

The octogenarian who stands at 4-feet, 11-inches tall, and weighs 99 pounds, names a security guard and the company for which the guard works — 50 State Security Services — in the lawsuit. She’s asking for in excess of $15,000 in damages.

In February, according to the suit, Anderson took a ride on Metrorail from her Brownsville neighborhood to clear her head and get some fresh air. During the ride, Anderson began to recite scripture and sing religious hymns. While she sang, she kept a beat with a makeshift instrument, a plastic bottle filled with beads.

Miami-Dade County Transit rules prohibit passengers from singing, dancing or playing a musical instrument unless a commercial permit is issued.

A guard on the rail instructed Anderson, who was carrying a suitcase, to stop singing or get off at the Brickell station — seven stops from her Brownville destination.

According to video footage captured by a passenger, the guard grabbed Anderson’s suitcase and she stumbled onto the platform as she exited the train.

Anderson cut her hand and was treated on the scene.

In the lawsuit, Anderson’s attorney, Al Carbonell, said his client was “exercising her religious convictions,” not creating a disturbance.

She “was … seeking solace and guidance from her God in her own way by singing praises to the Lord Jesus Christ and to God while reminiscing about her brother and others that had passed from this world,” Carbonell said in the suit.

Family members say Anderson is a religious woman, who constantly recites scripture and shares encouraging words to loved ones.

Her son Donald Anderson told Miami Herald news partner CBS 4 that his mother likes to evangelize.

“My mom is one that praises the Lord,” Anderson said in March. “That’s what she does around our house. She gives God the glory. She goes out and speaks the word of God to people and she gets on the train and sing praises.”

The guard company contracts with Miami-Dade County to provide security on the Metrorail. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has issued Anderson an apology.

“She is the one always uplifting us and supporting us,” said her grandson, Derek Anderson, 29. “Our family is very upset about what happened to her. That didn’t have to happen.”

Derek Anderson said he doesn’t want the guard to lose his job over what happened to his grandmother, “but I think we need to send the message [that] you have to respect your elders,” he said. “You should have to respect and be more understanding and patient with an older person. It’s just out of decency. There is no need to get physical.”

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