Iranian international student Mohammad Reza, his wife, and his daughter all live in Dallas. The two parents are PhD candidates at The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), but Mohammad was alone on a Greyhound bus on November 13th, traveling from downtown Dallas to Kansas City to present his research at a national transportation conference. When the bus had stopped in Wichita, KS at 3:00am, the young man was obviously sleeping; the entire bus trip customarily takes about 12 hours, though it’s approximately nine hours from Dallas to Wichita. He was brusquely awoken in a stopped bus by the irate driver.
News reports of the event—further bolstered by the savviness with which Reza chose to record the event with his cellphone—do not clarify why exactly Reza was originally woken up. The footage clearly depicts the driver insisting to see Reza’s bus ticket, although why this had to be done at 3:00am is also unclear. Reza first had trouble producing the paper ticket and the driver
refused to accept a digital version saved on his phone, but even though he did eventually find it, he was ordered to get off of the bus anyway. When he tried to stand his ground he was threatened with police action and, in the end, an officer escorted him off at the shuttered Greyhound station at 3:40 in the morning.
In the past two years we’ve seen many disturbing video recordings, chronicling events fueled by racism which prompt threats, physical harm, and death to people of color. Thankfully, Reza was not physically injured, though he did end up paying a $250 Lyft cab fee to get to his conference on time. However, the threat of violence was certainly there, as Reza recounts to NBC News:
“One of them approached me to [my] face and loudly said ‘F’ words and threatened me. And they told me, ‘If you’re not leaving the bus, we want to do something with you here, in the bus.’”
While Reza is not seeking any financial damages from the incident (and not even pursuing reimbursement for his outrageously expensive Lyft ride), the doctoral candidate wants the answer to the question he repeatedly posed to the driver herself: “What’s the reason?” Greyhound made a statement that they are investigating the matter, but it’s already a week later and an answer has not been produced.
Reza booked a flight home to Dallas after the conference, where his research presentation apparently went over very well.
An Iranian-American Ph.D. candidate believes his nationality and his name are the only possible explanation for a Greyhound driver removing him from a bus 200 miles short of his destination.