Los Angeles, CA
Monday, September 4, 1989
National ADAPT leader, Stephanie Thomas recounted a comment from one of her teachers: “The part of the washing machine that cleans the clothes is called the ‘agitator’. If ADAPT wanted change,” Thomas would say, “to clean up the ways people with disabilities were treated or excluded – they needed to be agitators.”
The summer of 1989 saw a number of successes in ADAPT’s multi-year effort to make public transportation accessible to disabled users, including a court decision in their favor in the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals case “ADAPT vs Burnley,” which challenged the U.S. Department of Transportation regulations regarding Section 504 compliance for public transit systems. Even with these successes, local chapters were empowered and encouraged to keep pressing against Greyhound and others notoriously bucking change. This event in Los Angeles was one of many that happened simultaneously around the country in a large push.
Early on Labor Day 1989, Bill Bolte (left) and Randy Horton (right), part of a group of about 30 LA activists who took over the downtown Greyhound terminal in Los Angeles, put their lives on the line for the cause by lying prostrate in front of and behind the wheels of a loaded bus trying to leave the station. The goal was to disrupt busy Labor Day bus travel to pressure Greyhound into installing wheelchair lifts.
Their actions reflected the seriousness of both the effort and the cause.