In 1999, actor Danny Glover filed a discrimination claim against the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission, saying taxi drivers had refused him service because of his skin color. His complaint and others like it sparked a citywide crackdown against drivers that treated passengers unequally.
Now, 12 years later, a similar crackdown is taking place. This time, the focus is on taxi drivers who refuse to take passengers to outer boroughs, even though the law requires them to travel to any destination a passenger desires within the city limits.
Niteside caught up with Glover Tuesday night at the premiere of the new HBO Documentary “Triangle: Remembering the Fire” and asked for his thoughts on the latest charges of rogue drivers.
Glover said he thought the two cases, coming more than a decade apart, shared similarities.
“I think it’s related,” he said. “The only thing that I tried to bring out back then was the issue of race. And I’m not the only one, I’m sure — it’s happened to many others.”
Glover recalled a story in which a famous civil rights leader and union organizer, A. Philip Randolph, was also rebuffed by taxi drivers for requesting a destination that might be considered out of the way.
“I remember the story of A. Philip Randolph standing on the corner waiting for a taxi after going to see 'Othello' in the 1970s. He lived up in Harlem, he’s waiting for a taxi, and he ends up deciding he might as well take the bus. And this is A. Philip Randolph, one of the greatest Americans ever.”
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who also attended the premiere, said that he supports legislation to increase fines and suspensions against drivers who refuse to take certain trips.
“I think this is a major problem. I will tell you that I have been a victim of cab drivers off-duty looking for the right person to take — making sure that person’s going where the cab driver wants to go and not where the passenger wants to go,” he said. "I think this is something that has racial overtones, and it’s cherry-picking people. It’s time for a serious fine and a crackdown and I urge the TLC to continue undercover operations.”