The primarily white community of Beavercreek, Ohio, is doing everything in its power to keep minority bus riders out, including risking tens of millions of dollars in federal funding.
The suburb of Beavercreek is about 15 minutes east of Dayton. The area boasts a major shopping mall, Wright State University and a medical clinic, according to ThinkProgress. In 2010, the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority (RTA) proposed adding three new bus stops in Beavercreek, which would bring in people from Dayton, give local businesses a boost and offer new education and work opportunities to minorities.
But Beavercreek did everything in its power to keep the buses out. One tactic included mandating expensive guidelines that bus shelters must have heat, air conditioning and high-tech surveillance. The Beavercreek City Council rejected the RTA’s less costly, more straight-forward proposal.
“We turned downed an application because they didn’t meet our [design] criteria,” said Beavercreek City Councilman Scott Hadley to Eye On Ohio.
That's when the civil rights group Leaders for Equality in Action in Dayton (LEAD) filed a complaint under Title VI nondiscrimination provisions of the Federal Highway Act. Now Beavercreek stands to lose millions in federal highway funding.
LEAD’s complaint says that the peculiar demands of the Beavercreek City Council are discriminatory.
“The City of Beavercreek’s criteria and methods for deciding whether to allow RTA transit stops in Beavercreek, which resulted in denial of the application for those stops had the effect of subjecting African-Americans, who disproportionately ride public transit, to discrimination,” the complaint said.
The civil rights division of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) ruled in favor of LEAD on June 13. FHWA stated that 11 of the requests made by Beavercreek were outside of standard design criteria and that the rejection of the RTA application had a disproportionate impact on black people, making it discriminatory.
Beavercreek was ordered by the FHWA to restart the application process with the RTA.
The majority of civil rights complaints, according to FHWA spokesman Doug Hecox, are related to access for disabled citizens. In Dayton and Beavercreek, the issue is purely race.
“I can’t see anything else but it being a racial thing,” said Sam Gresham, state chair of Common Cause Ohio, a public interest advocacy group, told ThinkProgress. “They don’t want African Americans going on a consistent basis to Beavercreek.”
“Their worldview and logic are two entirely separate things,” he said of the Beavercreek City Council.
The council will meet on the matter again Aug. 12 and it has until Sept. 11 to comply with the FHWA order.