Denver bus riders forced to show ID or risk arrest and prosecution

Deborah Davis was riding the bus to work in Denver one fateful morning last September, when security guards boarded the bus and demanded to see everyone’s ID. Davis refused and federal police boarded and arrested her.

The Denver bus route that Davis used happens to cross the Denver Federal Center, and although Davis doesn’t get off the bus there, she was still asked to show ID.

On Monday, September 26th 2005, Deb Davis headed off to work on the route 100 bus. When the bus got to the gates of the Denver Federal Center, a guard got on and asked her if she had an ID. She answered in the affirmative. He asked if he could see it. She said no.

When the guard asked why she wouldn’t show her ID, Deb told him that she didn’t have to do so. The guard then ordered her off the bus. Deb refused, stating she was riding a public bus and just trying to get to work.

The guard then went to call his supervisor, and returned shortly with a federal policeman. The federal cop then demanded her ID. Deb politely explained once again that she would not show her ID, and she was simply commuting to work. He left, returning shortly thereafter with a second policeman in tow.

This second cop asked the same question and got the same answer: no showing of ID, no getting off the bus.

The cop was also annoyed with the fact that she was on the phone with a friend and didn’t feel like hanging up, even when he ‘ordered’ her to do so.

The second cop said everyone had to show ID any time they were asked by the police, adding that if she were in a Wal-Mart and was asked by the police for ID, that she would have to show it there, too.

She explained that she didn’t have to show him or any other policeman my ID on a public bus or in a Wal-Mart. She told him she was simply trying to go to work.

Suddenly, the second policeman shouted “Grab her!” and he grabbed the cell phone from her and threw it to the back of the bus. With each of the policemen wrenching one of her arms behind her back, she was jerked out of her seat, the contents of her purse and book bag flying everywhere. The cops shoved her out of the bus, handcuffed her, threw her into the back seat of a police cruiser, and drove her to a police station inside the confines of the Denver Federal Center.

Once inside, she was taken down a hall and told to sit in a chair, still handcuffed, while one of the policemen went through her purse, now retrieved from the bus.

The two policemen sat in front of their computers, typing and conferring, trying to figure out what they should charge her with. Eventually, they wrote up several tickets, took her outside and removed the handcuffs, returned her belongings, and pointed her toward the bus stop. She was told that if she ever entered the Denver Federal Center again, she would go to jail.

She hasn’t commuted by public bus since that day. — Papers Please

While there is no general requirement for people to carry and show identification on demand, when not suspected of criminal wrongdoing, the federal government does require that persons entering federal property show identification.

The real kicker to this story is that the guards didn’t seem to be doing anything with the identification. They didn’t check it against a database. They “barely even glanced at” people’s identification cards.

A review of the Denver Regional Transportation District’s maps and schedules show that it would be fairly difficult to travel that route and avoid the Denver Federal Center, an extensive two square mile compound. Such a route would involve several transfers and likely an hour or more of added bus travel time.

This raises the question of why a city bus is entering federal property in the first place, as this sort of thing was bound to happen sooner or later.

(Seen on Bayosphere)

If you ride this bus in Denver, I’d like to hear from you. What, if anything, do the guards do with your identification? Do they check ID on every bus, or only randomly?