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MBTA Criticized For Shutting Down Stations During Protests

BOSTON (CBS) - The MBTA is facing sharp criticism for shutting its stations down during Boston's protests. "I just wanted to go to the protest to send a message to all over the world that black lives matter," said 19-year-old Carrie Mays.

Carrie and her 16-year-old sister went to Sunday's protest with their Youth Empowerment group. "I was very proud of myself in going to this event, but in the end, when it came to getting home, I just knew I had to stick with my sister," said Natasha Mays.

"Right when we started hearing fireworks, we knew it was time to go, and me and my sister immediately said we have to get home, until we found out that the MBTA stations were closed," said Carrie. "We were trapped."

The MBTA has repeatedly closed the Downtown Crossing station and others during protest this week. General Manager Steve Poftak said "…in the opinion of the Transit Police Incident Commander, outside activity posed a danger to the safe operation of the station and transit activity." He also said a disturbance in a station could not only pose a risk for passengers and T employees, but also functions like the signal system.

When the Mays sisters found themselves stranded Sunday, Carrie put out a plea for help on social media. "I get the notification instantly saying she's in an alleyway, that she's scared," said Boston City Councilor Julia Mejia. She drove into the protests to rescue them. "Then I get back to Dorchester. I was near my house, and I get a call from other young people who were stranded, who had already tried to go to several different train stations and were unsuccessful," said Mejia.

"The T is not McDonald's. They can't just shut down and say, 'go across the street to Wendy's,'" said Jarred Johnson, who heads up Transit Matters. "There are hundreds of thousands of people who depend on the T because they don't have a vehicle: they don't have another mode of transport."

Transit Matters called for the MBTA to stay open during protests, and to stop using its buses to transport police around them for security. After refusing to budge on the matter for days, Friday afternoon, the MBTA agreed to stop transporting police to and from protests.

Also Friday, the Boston City Council passed a resolution urging the T to stay open during public demonstrations.

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