Man Without Face Mask Refuses to Leave SEPTA Bus; Police Pull Him Off

City officials said police were responding to his refusal to leave the bus; SEPTA now says it won't refuse service to someone without a mask

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What to Know

  • SEPTA had issued a policy requiring any transit rider to wear a face mask for the protection of its workers and other riders
  • A man without a mask was asked to leave a SEPTA bus Friday morning, witnesses and city officials said. When he refused, police responded and pulled him off
  • SEPTA is investigating but says it will no longer enforce the mask policy

A man who wasn't wearing a mask on a SEPTA bus -- and refused the driver's request to get off it -- was forcibly pulled from the bus by Philadelphia Police officers on Friday morning.

The encounter was captured on a video shot by Dupree Myers of Philadelphia and posted to Facebook.

Meyers said it happened at about 8:25 a.m. on the Route 23 bus at Eleventh and Market streets.

On it, the man is seen resisting as officers try to grab his legs and pull him off the bus. The man asks why he's being removed and swears at the officers. Someone on the video can be heard saying "Guys, want a taser?"

Eventually, the unidentified man is removed and officers briefly hold him against the side of the bus. Then he is released, saying "I want all y'all's f---ing badge numbers, too."

At one point, someone not on the video can be heard yelling to the officers, "Thank you!"

During the coronavirus pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended everyone wear a mask when going outside. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has strongly recommended it.

SEPTA had issued a policy urging riders to wear masks on all its transit systems to protect riders and operators, but following this incident said it would no longer enforce it.

"While SEPTA urges riders to cover their faces, those who refuse will not be barred entry to the system," the SEPTA statement read.

After a man who wasn't wearing the recommended face covering refused to leave a SEPTA bus, police pulled him off.

SEPTA added that this incident was still under investigation.

Philadelphia officials who were asked about the video Friday said the police were not enforcing the mask policy -- but were instead responding to the driver who said the man refused to leave the bus.

"When a bus driver says he's kicked somebody off for any reason, our officers are going to support SEPTA in that effort," Brian Abernathy, the city's managing director, said during the city press briefing Friday. "Especially given some of the challenges SEPTA has faced during this crisis."

Mayor Jim Kenney said "our SEPTA bus drivers are front-line, boots-on-the-ground heroes." He added it was his understanding that the man was not cited or arrested.

"We are in strange times, and people are reacting in strange ways," Kenney said. "But I don't blame the bus driver."

Myers, who shot the video, said he sees both sides of the incident.

He said he understands why a bus driver or riders would be worried about getting sick and also why the man resisted being pulled off the bus.

"It's a 50/50 situation," he said. "Due to the situation we are dealing with, everyone's in a panic."

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