The black actor Danny Glover's formal complaint to the City Taxi and Limousine Commission last week, saying that a cabdriver had discriminated against him because of the color of his skin, has led to a class action suit organized by State Senator David Paterson and the Rev. Al Sharpton.
The pair of politicians said they were preparing fliers to be distributed throughout New York City, seeking citizens who feel they have been discriminated against, to join in the lawsuit. Paterson and Sharpton offered no specifics on policies or penalties they hoped to extract from the commission or the city.
Glover, who is 52, in his press conference after filing the complaint, said that he, his daughter, and a friend of hers had been passed by five lighted cabs at 116th Street and Seventh Avenue, in Harlem, about 1 am. When a sixth taxi stopped for a red light, Glover's daughter, Mandisa, a senior at New York University, tried to open the back door but found it locked. The driver unlocked the two back doors, but then refused to let Glover sit in front with him and pushed him, the actor said. Glover, who is six-foot-four and suffers from a bad hip, said he found the back seats of taxis too confining.
"I was so angry," Glover said in the press conference. "The fact that my daughter's here in school, it really upsets me that if she's standing on a corner waiting to get a cab, she can't get a cab. It happens to her, it happens to countless people every day. The fact that I'm a celebrity, the fact that I'm visible, allows me to draw attention to this."
Glover, best known for the "Lethal Weapon" movies, made his Broadway debut in 1982 in Athol Fugard's "Master Harold and the Boys." He previously spent several years with the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco.
The actor continues to live in San Francisco, but visits New York frequently. He and his lawyer, Randolph Scott-McLaughlin, a law professor at Pace University, had not decided by press time whether they want to press charges in a hearing that Glover would have to attend, or to have the matter adjudicated, and work toward diversity-training by the commission.
Paterson, who is blind and lives in Harlem, said he had been asked to leave taxis more than 100 times once he stated his destination as Harlem. He said he and Sharpton will move forward with legal action regardless of what Glover does.