After quickly and quietly giving out “Know Your Rights” leaflets to every passenger in the Greyhound waiting room here on July 27, and before security could figure out what was happening, activists walked out of the station and set up a picket line outside the terminal where they held a street meeting, urging people to boycott Greyhound.
Fight for Im/migrants and Refugees Everywhere (FIRE) called the action.
Greyhound security immediately ordered activists to leave or threatened that they would call Houston police. The FIRE spokesperson responded, saying that security could call the police, but no one was leaving because they were on public property, had a right to be there and riders needed to hear their message. Activists continued to hand out the bilingual flyers and speak on a bullhorn.
Passengers going into and coming out of the terminal eagerly took flyers and listened to the speakers. Many asked questions. The Greyhound terminal is on Main Street, just outside of downtown Houston, and the passengers were a very multinational group of working-class people.
Demonstrators gave out hundreds of flyers and held discussions on the issues with both passengers and employees. Most riders were surprised that Border Patrol would even get on a bus, and all were glad to learn that they didn’t have to show any documentation, whatever their status.
When two carloads of cops arrived, Greyhound security told them to tell protesters to leave. As the cops explained that protesters could be outside as long as they weren’t blocking people from entering or exiting, the deflated security guards backed off.
Several Greyhound employees came out to ask questions. Activists asked one bus driver if his union had taken a position on Border Patrol getting on buses. He said he didn’t know, but he was going to take photos of the demonstrators and give the flyers to the union to find out. He said he didn’t feel Border Patrol should be allowed on his bus.
FIRE heard no negative comments about immigrants. People were receptive to the distributed information.
After a while, the head security guard came out and apologized for his loud, confrontational attitude. He had never encountered demonstrators before and just assumed a loud group couldn’t be outside Greyhound’s door.
“Now our task is to find out if there are any buses people can take as an alternative to Greyhound. That way we can refer passengers to other carriers,” said FIRE organizer Tania Siddiqi. “This is a good bus station to be at. People are receptive and responded with many questions.” She suggested we get the “Know Your Rights” information translated into several other languages. Another activist suggested holding an action at Greyhound’s corporate office in Dallas.
Houston FIRE organizers say this new campaign will continue.