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Searching for graffiti on Metro

A passenger onboard a train at McPherson Station became alarmed Friday when a Metro police officer asked her and other riders to get up and look on their seats for any signs of graffiti.

Berna Diehl who has been a Metro rider for more than a decade said the minute-long incident was "jarring" for many of the passengers because the officer, who entered the train with a great sense of urgency, said he was looking for Arabic script or graffiti.

Diehl said she boarded the Orange Line train around 3:10 p.m. The train held for a few minutes and the Metro Transit Police officer boarded.

"What was unusual was the way he entered, the tone in his voice and the urgency in his voice," Diehl said.

Metro officials said the officer was responding to a complaint about graffiti on the train. But they said it had nothing to do with Arabic writing.

Cathy Asato, a spokeswoman for Metro, said the officer boarded the train and asked passengers if they saw someone writing graffiti or if they saw any graffiti on the train. She said the officer, who was making an immediate response to a complaint about graffiti, never said anything about Arabic script.

Asato said Metro Transit Police questioned a suspect at Stadium-Armory but the person was not charged.

Diehl said she is not trying to get into a fight with WMATA, but it is hard to reconcile the two accounts.

Diehl said her back was turned toward the officer when he boarded the train, and at first everyone seemed to be unsure of what he was looking for. But she said she then asked in a "very loud voice, 'What are you looking for?' He hollered Arabic script and Arabic graffiti."

The train operator never made an announcement, Diehl said.

"The whole thing left question marks on everyone's faces," Diehl said.

-- Ovetta Wiggins

Were you riding the rails on Friday when Metro was searching for graffiti? What did you see or hear? Or have you spotted graffiti on a specific rail car and would like to report it? Post a comment below.

By Michael Bolden  | October 18, 2010; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Metro, MetroAccess, Metrobus  
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Metro responds to complaints about graffiti? Really?

Posted by: getjiggly1 | October 18, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Apparently if you tag in Arabic, it will get a top level response.

I wonder if Metro will respond to the appropriateness of the officers' handling of the non-situation? Doubt it.

Posted by: rpike | October 19, 2010 11:27 PM | Report abuse

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