L.A. Clergy Speak and Pray Against Proposed Metro Fare Increase

Bishop Juan Carlos Mendez, of Churches for Action, prays for Metro board officials to  have hearts of compassion in opposition to Metro's proposed fare increase. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog LA

Bishop Juan Carlos Mendez (center, with microphone), of Churches for Action, prays for Metro board officials to have hearts of compassion in opposition to Metro’s proposed fare increase. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog LA

At its regular monthly meeting this Thursday, May 22nd, 2014, the Metro board of directors will vote on its proposed fare increase. If approved, bus and rail base fare will increase 25 cents in September, and will continue to rise automatically in years ahead.

Today, a handful of pastors, surrounded by supporters from Fight for the Soul of the Cities, assembled at the steps of Los Angeles City Hall. Latino and African-American, speaking in English and Spanish, the clergy drew attention to the injustice of balancing Metro budgets on the backs of poor. They called on elected leaders, especially Mayor Eric Garcetti and County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, to “be more conscious of the needs of the community” by rejecting Metro’s fare hike. They also called for ending Metro’s “stop and frisk” practices that “criminalize young people.”

At the conclusion of the press event, Bishop Juan Carlos Mendez led a prayer urging God to give L.A.’s elected leaders “heart of compassion, and hearts of flesh.” 

In an interview with SBLA, non-denomenational pastor Stephen “Cue” Jean-Marie of The Row, “the Church without Walls,” in downtown Los Angeles’ skid row, further explained his concerns. He sees politicians as “far removed” from the lives of ordinary people. Electeds “all have cars” so the fare increase “is not really real for them.” Cue analogized that God humbled himself by becoming a human being in Jesus Christ, so humans couldn’t say to God, “You don’t get it.” Cue urged elected leaders to show similar divine compassion.

Heaven and the Los Angeles City Hall look down on the clergy assembled. photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog LA

Heaven and the Los Angeles City Hall look down on the clergy assembled. photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog LA

Streetsblog Los Angeles will have additional Metro fare increase coverage this week. Follow @StreetsblogLA on Twitter for updates live from the Thursday Metro board meeting.