Miami, Florida — The family of an 82-year-old woman is exploring their legal options after a security guard dragged her off the train when she refused to stop singing in her seat.
According to reports, Emma Anderson began singing Gospel hymns as she rode the Miami Metro public train system last month, and tapped a rolled-up newspaper on her leg to keep time as she sang. However, she was soon approached by a security guard who asked her to stop her vocalizations because they were allegedly problematic. Anderson refused and kept on singing.
“Let’s go. You’re getting off here,” the guard said when he saw that Anderson was not obeying his commands. He then grabbed into her suitcase.
However, Anderson dug in her heels and refused to leave the train. She clutched tightly to her bag.
As the guard began to pull on Anderson’s suitcase, the force was too great for her to fight back. She went tumbling and landed on the platform.
“He snatched me so hard that I fell off the train,” Anderson told reporters.
The incident was captured on a cell phone by a passenger.
“Help!” she called out.
Some of the passengers that saw the tussle were outraged and immediately rebuked the guard, calling out, “Was that appropriate?” Anderson’s family became angered when they heard about what happened as well.
“It was not right for them to drag her off the train,” her son Donal stated. “I was very disgusted that somebody would handle an elderly person like that.”
However, the Miami-Dade Transit System asserts that it is against the rules for anyone to sing or play any type of music on the train without prior permission. Spokesperson Karla Damian released a statement to explain.
“Miami-Dade Transit has a responsibility to all its passengers to provide a safe and comfortable travel experience. The elderly passenger, Ms. Anderson, who was escorted from a Metrorail train, was initially asked by a security guard to refrain from singing loudly and playing an instrument while on the train,” she wrote. “She refused to comply. County rules associated with transit use prohibit anyone from singing, dancing or playing a musical instrument unless a commercial permit is issued by MDT.”
“Further, Ms. Anderson’s singing was causing a disturbance to other passengers and impeding important train announcements from being heard,” the statement continued. “We regret that Ms. Anderson had to eventually be escorted out, but regardless of age, all passengers need to abide by the rules associated with using transit.”
When Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez became aware of the incident, however, he took a different position. He likewise issued a statement.
“We are sorry that this incident occurred and apologize to Mrs. Anderson. The situation should have been handled with more care and common sense,” Gimenez said. “We have made it clear to all county employees and contractors that our patrons must be treated with dignity and respect. We are in the process of reviewing our policies and procedures to ensure special consideration is taken when dealing with the elderly and people with special needs.”
Anderson’s family states that they have hired an attorney over the matter and are weighing their options at this time.