MIAMI (CBS4) – Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has issued an apology to an elderly woman who said she was escorted off a MetroRail train for singing religious hymns.
“We are sorry that this incident occurred and apologize to Mrs. Anderson,” the statement read in part.
Emma Anderson, 82, was singing and making noise on-board the train on February 20th when she was forcefully removed, according to her son.
“My mom is one that praises the Lord,” Donald Anderson told CBS 4′s Lauren Pastrana. “That’s what she do 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.”
Anderson said his mother was on the train last month when her singing caught a security guard’s attention. It also piqued the interest of her fellow passengers. One person captured the incident on cell phone video.
In the clip provided to CBS4 News by Donald Anderson, the guard can be seen approaching Emma Anderson and telling her multiple times to stop singing.
But she continued, and the guard moved to escort her off the train at the Brickell station, about seven miles from her intended stop in Brownsville.
“You have to get off here ma’am. Let’s go,” the guard is heard saying as he grabs the woman’s suitcase.
The video shows the woman falling on the platform while wrestling with the guard for her belongings.
“I can hear my mom hollering and that was very discouraging,” her son said about the first time he watched the video.
Donald Anderson said his mother injured her shoulder and her hip.
“I was very disgusted that somebody would handle an elderly person like that,” the younger Anderson said.
Miami Dade Transit issued a statement which said, in part, “county rules associated with transit use prohibit anyone from singing, dancing or playing a musical instrument unless a commercial permit is issued by MDT.”
Transit spokeswoman Karla Damian said Ms. Anderson’s singing was causing a disturbance and making it difficult for other passengers to hear important train announcements.
As Anderson was removed from the train, a witness is heard asking the guard his name.
“That was not appropriate,” a person can be heard saying on the video.
Mayor Carlos Gimenez seemed to agree with the concerned witness.
“The situation should have been handled with more care and common sense,” the mayor said in a statement issued Thursday. “We have made it clear to all County employees and contractors that our patrons must be treated with dignity and respect.”
The mayor said policies and procedures will be reviewed to make sure special consideration is taken when dealing with the elderly and people with special needs.
When asked what he thought of the mayor’s apology, Donald Anderson said, “I think it’s great. I think that’s a step in the right direction.”
The Andersons have hired an attorney. They’ve planned a press conference is planned for Friday morning.