While that box of files might've stolen their thunder this morning, at least 200 sign-toting cabbies were back at Dallas City Hall this morning, marching 'round the reflecting pool to yet again complain about the preferential treatment given compressed natural gas-powered cabs at Love Field, where the city allows them to jump to the front of the taxi queues. It's an expensive modification indie drivers say they can't afford.
And even if City Hall isn't convinced it'll be a problem, the drivers rallied around Association of Taxicab Operators leaders this morning to begin another strike just in time for the Super Bowl tourism rush. ATO spokesman Mirza Sajid gathered them up a little before noon today to let them know: "The strike is on." They'll be back out there tomorrow at 10 a.m.
The strikers carried the same kind of red-on-white signs they had last fall, but some of the messages were far more racially charged this time around, calling the city's pro-CNG policy "racist," and saying it amounted to "Jim Crowism." "This is the final straw," said Juanita Wallace with the NAACP. "They're not going to be pushed around anymore."
Some of the drivers, passing around a box of Kool-Aid Jammers juice sacks after the rally, sounded game for standing tough on the strike. But a second plan for dissent was rippling through the crowd, as well -- plans to keep lining up at Love Field, to keep working, and simply box out any CNG cab that tried to jump their place in line.
Tunde Obazee, a former ATO president and cab driver, said he'd support everyone who remained on strike, but that this looked to him like the time to challenge the front-of-the-line policy. He suggested drivers licensed to pick up passengers at Love Field go back and defend their places in line. He said they simply cannot be afraid of being arrested.
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"If your gas is not illegal, if your taxi permit is not a second-class permit, if your citizenship papers are in order, then I think you need to stand up like men and women and fight for your rights," Obzaee said. "Any man that doesn't have a reason to die is not fit to be alive."