I Know I’m in a Handicapped Spot, but I’ll Only Be 2 Minutes

I Know I’m in a Handicapped Spot, but I’ll Only Be 2 Minutes

I’m writing again about someone with MS who was blocked from a handicapped parking spot by someone who isn’t handicapped. I know, it happens all the time. But this time was a little different. The spot was blocked by a television news crew. And that struck a nerve (I’ll tell you why shortly).

James Berrie is the fellow with MS. When he and his wife Sarah went to vote earlier this month in the Houston area, they found that the only van-accessible spot was blocked by a reporter and her crew from MSNBC. The TV crew needed to be in a spot that would show the polling place in the background as reporter Mariana Atencio did her live shot. The handicapped spot was in a perfect location for that.

Here’s how Berrie continued the story on his Facebook page: “We asked them to move, pointed out how it was wrong, then went to vote, because it takes time to load up.”

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The couple parked farther away, in a spot where Berrie could unload his power wheelchair.

(A TV crew sets up in a handicapped parking spot on Election Day. Via James Berrie/Facebook)

He added: “But came out and still there. Not even packing up, still getting ready for their shot. Then Sarah made a big scene and did not back down. They claimed they had a live shot, so Sarah walked into the shot. They cut the feed and got pissed. Fortunately other people joined in, plus firefighters who where there for Prop B. We finally left once their van was loaded. But there were plenty of witnesses and pictures/video taken by others.”

Berrie told KHOU-TV that the MSNBC crew “kept coming back like we’ll move in two minutes. We’ll move in like three minutes. We’re going live. We’ve got a shot. We’re going live in like three minutes. We gotta do this and we’re just like, ‘No. You have to move. It’s not right. You know it’s not right.’”

Atencio later apologized, posting on Twitter:

Atencio Twitter post
(Screenshot via Twitter)

Barrie said, “handicap spots are not loading zones,” and he’s right. Delivery people may be some of the worst offenders. Just the other day I drove past a UPS truck that was parked perpendicular to three handicapped spots, blocking them all!

I take James Barrie’s problem a little personally, I guess, because I spent over 40 years in the broadcast news profession. And I know that there are people in that profession who have a sense of entitlement. They believe they’re entitled to park where they want because, they’ll say, they have a job to do. But there’s no First Amendment right to park in a space reserved for someone with a disability in order to have a pretty background for a live shot. I’d like the MSNBC crew and the UPS driver to walk a mile in my shoes. I wish I could.

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15 comments

  1. Cyndi says:

    Kudos to James and Sarah! Violators too often see the infraction as a minor, temporary delay to a person with “privileged parking”. It’s not a privilege folks, it’s a necessity.

  2. Katherine says:

    I repeatedly see people parked without placards or license plates indicating they are Handicapped– it’s very frustrating – my mother(hip) and I (PPMS) are both handicapped and we went out to the movies several months ago and complained to management that they really did not have enough Handicapped spaces he stated that around the corner there were several – but the thing is they are also utilized by all the other retail establishments as well-and further to walk !!
    The Westfield Shopping Center close to our home took away Handicapped spots to accommodate Target moving in !! How is this helpful? I keep thinking -If people were just a little more informed or aware of our struggles maybe it will get better — but it does seem to be a fight without end….

  3. Karen Peoples says:

    I am personally going to email MSNBC and express my displeasure in this behavior. I’m glad they apologized to “the two people who were on their way to vote”, but in my opinion, they need to apologize to every single handicapped person in the U.S. for this irresponsible and inexcusable behavior. This goes way beyond inconveniencing two people and stopping someone from voting. This is a daily occurrence for many disabled people no matter what they are doing. Their response belittled what was going on that day by able-bodied, self-important, entitled bullies.

  4. Mark Reaney says:

    People poaching on accessible (not “handicapped”) parking is a pet peeve, but I try not to get worked up as it is so common. My favorite ploy is to keep saying “But it is against the LAW” over and over. Then if they don’t move, stare at their licence plate and pretend to be calling the police on my cell phone. Works quite well.

    • Ed Tobias says:

      Thanks for the info and the comment about my word choice, Mark. You’re right. A parking spot can’t be handicapped. It was a bit of “lazy” writing on my part and I’ll try to remember to use “accessible.”

      Ed

  5. Patricia Garcia says:

    My son’s biggest complaint is the misuse of handicap spots. He can’t walk at all without his walker. For him a handicap spot is a necessity

  6. Christopher says:

    I wish I could walk a mile, period.

    It’s difficult… in the beginning of my MS career (it is a job, you know) I avoided disabled parking spaces completely. I wasn’t too disabled yet, and I knew there were people much worse off than myself who really needed that space, or spaces. Eventually my family and friends pushed me to use those spaces because they didn’t want to see me get hurt. In the meantime, and after, I was noticing more and more people using those spaces who obviously didn’t need them. At first I just took note. Then I became more vocal, and even took pictures and reported people. Some of the confrontations were heated, and others left me wondering sometimes if I pushed too hard. I guess the ones that irked me the most weren’t because of self-entitled people–they’re a dime-a-dozen anyway. Mostly I was upset with people who just never thought about what they were doing. Like the people who use the placard, but leave the disabled person in the car.

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