State Politics

‘Welcome to the resistance:’ NC Uber driver kicked Republican passengers out, they say

North Carolina Young Republicans volunteers at a campaign event for Rep. Chris Malone on Saturday, July 14, 2018. Six of the volunteers said they were kicked out of an Uber ride by the driver because of their political affiliation later that day.
North Carolina Young Republicans volunteers at a campaign event for Rep. Chris Malone on Saturday, July 14, 2018. Six of the volunteers said they were kicked out of an Uber ride by the driver because of their political affiliation later that day. Courtesy of the North Carolina Federation of Young Republicans

Six Republican volunteers were traveling in an Uber on Saturday from a campaign event to downtown Raleigh when they say their driver pulled over to a gas station and told them to get out.

“Welcome to the resistance,” the driver said while pulling away, according to Chris Godbey and Mary Russell, two of the passengers.

The driver told the six volunteers, who are from the Washington, D.C., area, to exit the vehicle on the grounds that the driver “had the right to deny us service,” Russell said.

During the ride, Godbey told The News & Observer, the six volunteers talked about “current politics, energy policy and previous Republican campaign experience.”

“It was clear based on our mild conservative political talk that the driver realized we were Republicans,” Russell, who was the rider who ordered the Uber, told The Daily Caller.

Later, Russell said she received a message from the ride -sharing company saying she was “inappropriate toward the driver,” she told The Daily Caller.

“The group of riders was not engaged in rude or inappropriate conversation throughout the course of the ride,” Godbey said. “However, the political conversation led to the driver pulling over under the condition of getting gas, at which point he informed the riders that he ‘had the right to deny us service’ and then ‘welcome to the resistance.’”

Godbey said the driver then drove away, leaving the group about 10 minutes from their intended destination.

“In a world where we’re supposed to embrace the free exchange of ideas, I was ordered out of my Uber for discussing my background,” Godbey said. “Was told ‘welcome to the resistance’ and abandoned.”

The group requested another ride, which arrived about 8 minutes later and took them to their destination without incident.

Godbey tweeted at Uber support and Uber’s CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, and asked “Is this listening to your customers?” He said Uber offered to refund the ride and would ensure the driver isn’t paired up with those passengers again, but Godbey said he doesn’t think that’s good enough.

“I think that this doesn’t come close to addressing the issue of safety and security that is implied in the contract when using their services,” he said.

Uber has policies that include how a rider can lose access to Uber or result in the early termination of a ride.

Those include damaging drivers’ or other passengers’ property, physical contact with drivers or fellow riders, unwanted contact after a trip, breaking local laws while using Uber and inappropriate and abusive language or gestures.

Godbey and Russell said they reviewed Uber’s policies, but did not use inappropriate or abusive language or gestures during their ride.

“Engaging in politics has its own set of barriers to entry but shouldn’t prompt this kind of reaction,” Godbey said. “Disappointed in the response from Uber.”

The six volunteers were “assisting our field operations with voter contact,” said Dallas Woodhouse, North Carolina Republican Party executive director.

“It is disappointing but I do not believe it is reflective of our state and its traditions to respectful political disagreement,” Woodhouse said Monday. “People should not be treated this way no matter if they strongly support or vigorously oppose our president.”

The volunteers were on a campaign trip for North Carolina Republican Reps. George Holding, Mark Meadows and Mark Walker, North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and state Rep. Chris Malone, and North Carolina House candidate Mark Harris.

“Unacceptable behavior by this Uber driver to the DC Young Republicans during a deployment in our state that both our organizations participated in this weekend,” the North Carolina Federation of Young Republicans wrote on Facebook on Sunday. “It is a shame that someone cannot even have civil disagreement/discussion and resorted to kicking a group of people out. This could have compromised their safety, and does not reflect North Carolina’s values or hospitality.”

Godbey is executive director of YR Majority, an organization working to build the Young Republican National Federation and elect Republicans from the local level to the White House.

On Uber’s website, it says drivers who accept a passenger’s trip request are “expected to bring you to your preferred destination. If your driver for this trip refused your destination or did not bring you there safely and comfortably, please let us know what happened.”

On July 10, a group of interns for congressional Republicans called for an Uber ride to Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., but the driver didn’t let them in the vehicle.

One of the interns said it’s because he and another intern were wearing red “Make America Great Again” hats.

Uber told The Washington Examiner that it was looking into the DC incident.

Godbey said he’s received feedback about his group’s experience and the DC incident.

“I think that there is a concern about the extremes that their resist movement is pushing with their rhetoric.”

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