Artis Hughes, a 22-year bus driver from Cleveland, engaged in an altercation with 25-year-old Shidea N. Lane, whom he punched and threw off the bus, on September 18.
A petition is being circulated by all those who believe the middle-aged man was acting in self-defense as he resorted to violence against the girl.
Hughes explained in his report that he had repeatedly asked Ms. Lane to pay for her bus ticket while allowing her on the bus, and she refused, prompting him to kick her off, if he dared to do so.
“She said she would spit on me, that’s when I told her I would hurt her, she continued to threaten me and as I was driving, she grabbed me in the throat and spit on me in the face. I stopped the bus and I protected myself and got off the bus,” he stated.
Shidea N. Lane was punched in the face
by the man, in front of a bus full of witnesses who posted the clip on YouTube, where more than 2 million other people watched the man deliver the blow.
“You’re going to jail now,” the belligerent passenger had exclaimed, after being assaulted.
Petitioners intend to submit their cause to Mary Shaffer, of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, pointing out that he was acting on threats of physical violence from the passenger, and that his termination would set a dangerous precedent. 1000 people have already signed the petition, on change.org
“As a bus driver, mr. Hughes was lied to, insulted, threatened and eventually attacked by one of the passagers. He was clearly justified in striking back. Were he to suffer any negative consequences to his employment as a result of defending himself and striking back, this would set a disasterous precedent: he and other employees would legitimately believe that their workplace expects them to put up with harrassment, and that they will lose their jobs if they choose to stand up for themselves,” the petition reads.
This is the public's response to the Regional Transit Authority's decision to suspend the man and possibly fire him.
Hughes supporters suggest this decision might be read as favoritism towards female abusers, and propose a zero tolerance policy towards aggressive passengers, instead of state employees that have to defend themselves from them.