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Parents: Son ejected from Wis. bus due to race

  • Associated Press
  • December 14, 2013 - 6:30 PM

JANESVILLE, Wis. — The family of a Janesville teenager who was kicked off a city bus last month alleges the incident was racially motivated and is seeking $500,000 from the city.

The family's lawyer said the boy, who is black, was ordered to vacate his seat in the priority seating area and move to the back of the bus to make room for a boarding passenger even though other seats were available.

The city released a statement Friday questioning the family's version of events. It also released surveillance video of the driver's dialogue with the teen, which the Janesville Gazette has posted (http://bit.ly/19K9cej ).

Attorney Amy Scarr, whom Taji Muhammad and Shytivia Turner-Muhammad hired to represent them and their 15-year-old son, said she hasn't filed a claim but that she sent a letter detailing her position to the city's attorney, Gregg Gunta.

"We would want some compensation for this boy, who was victimized by the bus driver," Scarr said.

Gunta declined to comment.

On the video, the driver can be heard telling someone, "Hon, you're not disabled. Why don't you move and let that lady sit down."

A white woman gets up and moves to the back of the bus. A black teen doesn't move, saying he doesn't need to because someone else has already opened up a space.

The driver says, "I know, but you can move to the back, too, because you don't belong down here."

The boy walks back, muttering something that Scarr acknowledged sounded like it started with an "F." The bus driver yells, "Hey, off my bus — now."

The bus driver is retiring effective Jan. 1, City Manager Mark Freitag said.

© 2014 Star Tribune