Observations of a FOX news crew outside my workplace: draw your own conclusions

A FOX news camera van is currently parked outside my workplace. About half of the van is in a restricted accessible parking spot (you know, with bigass blue signs saying it's restricted to vehicles displaying a valid plate or placard) and about half of the van is in an adjacent non-restricted parking spot. The van is occupied by one individual. I can't see any other people who appear to be affiliated with said van, nor can I tell what they're doing here. The van does not have a disability plate and no disability placard is visible. It is possible that one of the people working out of said van has a placard and forgot to display it, but this still doesn't explain the need for the two parking spaces.


Penny L. Richards said...

Can you take a picture and post it to caughtya.org? Or maybe send it to their competitors ;) ?

eeka said...

Hi Penny. I was going to take a picture, but realized my phone didn't have enough batteries.

I actually have mixed feelings about that site, because I fear that there's going to be that one time that someone forgets to put up their placard and gets posted up there. It may already have happened.

I've definitely had people tell me they've forgotten to put it up and had people yell at them that they're selfish and ignorant. One person who talked to me was told something about "those spots aren't for people like you" and didn't realize until later that this was likely because of the forgotten placard, and thought this was just general anti-disability bullshit.

A lot of (well-meaning) people seem to forget that a lot of disabilities aren't visible, including several that qualify people for accessible parking. I agree that we need to advocate for respect of designated parking spots, but the way to do this isn't through humiliation or assumption that the person has no right to be there. The person may well have a right to be there. When I see someone without a plate or placard, I approach them and say "hey, it looks like you forgot to put up your tag -- don't want you to get a ticket!" The person will usually quickly let me know whether they did forget, whether they really don't know the law (in some countries disability parking is done on the honor system, so people may think they're legit as long as they have a disability), or whether they are just being a jackass.

margalit said...

If a placard isn't clearly displayed call the police and have them tow the vehicle. As a handicapped person WITH a placard that never leaves my windshield, I would be SEETHING if a newstruck was blocking my access to a building. If I needed to get into that building for ANY reason, and could not, that truck is violating MY rights.

Call the cops, please.

eeka said...

The van is gone now.

There was a person in the van though; I would have only called the cops if the van refused to move when someone asked them to, and I don't think they would have towed a van with a person in it. There was another accessible spot open at the time, and no one appeared to be attempting to access either spot.

See my comment above; I always prefer to try to address the issue with the person by assuming that they forgot to put up their placard. Keep in mind that many people have a placard because, say, they have a child with several multiple medical needs and 30 appointments per week. Can you imagine how they might be a little frazzled and forget where the placard is? And some people have a placard because of psych issues that can lead to severe panic attacks when leaving the house. Can you see how the placard might not be the first thing on their mind?

It doesn't help anyone to try to advocate for the PWD community if our actions end up hurting another PWD who made an honest mistake. This is why I always address suspected violators with compassion.

Anonymous said...

i used to work at boston college where parking on campus was a nightmare.i used to see these rich a#$hole kids dump their cars anyplace they wanted to so they could get to class.one day this big strong healthy kid hops out of a jeep in a handicap spot and starts waling toward the classrooms.i walked up to him and said "hey dude, you know those spots are for people that are handicapped, not late for class" he turned, lifted his pantleg and shows me his prosthetic leg.man did i feel dumb.but then he thanked me for looking out for folks who do abuse the spots.im more careful now on who i approach.

Eric Jay said...

Hi eeka, I've been reading your blog on and off for a while (especially when you get linked from universalhub). Anyway, this entry reminded me of a situation I was in a while back...

There's a parking spot on a major road near me (in Boston) that is restricted for the disabled, but only during certain hours of the day. I used to avoid parking there, even outside of the marked hours. However, I eventually realized that me leaving the spot open just meant that someone else would park there - it's a busy neighborhood and any open spot is rare. So after that point, I parked there without feeling guilt (outside of the marked hours, of course).

One day, a car with a placard was several behind me in traffic, and the driver was aiming for the spot. After I pulled into the spot, she drove up and yelled at me for parking there. I mentioned that it was well outside the posted times, but offered to move my car and find another spot. She wasn't happy with my response and insisted on calling the police (as well as blocking me in to preserve the evidence). Long story short, the officer confirmed that I was legit... and that the other driver was (a) double parked, and (b) harassing me... but even still, I've avoided parking in that spot. I'm not sure if it's out of confrontation avoidance, or guilt about taking a spot that maybe should be restricted all the time...

Have you seen spots that are only restricted part of the day before? Are they a point of contention among any disabled drivers/passengers that you have spoken to?

I've seen several other similar arguments over this spot, and it always just seems terribly uncomfortable for everyone involved.

eeka said...

Hey Eric, welcome. I'll check out your blog.

I have seen spots that are reserved for people with disabilities (please note the preferred language...) only during certain hours. This is usually because there is a business nearby that serves people with disabilities that has requested the spot, or because someone with a placard works there and requested the spot, or just because it's an area that already has the required number of accessible spots but wanted to provide an extra one during business hours.

The person you encountered seems to have treated you in a really obnoxious manner; I'm so sorry to hear that. Again, you make my case for why people with and without disabilities need to be compassionate in advocating for respect of accessible parking spaces. This person may have encountered hostility on the other end regarding parking spots, which led to this entitlement and defensiveness about all matters parking-related. Doesn't at all justify the behavior, of course, but might explain it.

My solution would be to eliminate the spots that are only reserved for placard holders during certain hours. Make them 24-hour accessible spots. I'm in favor of anything that makes regulations easier to understand and follow and which reduces unnecessary conflicts between people.

Caughtya said...

In my experience (full time chair user for the last 12 or so years, in Canada, USA, NZ and UK), the vast majority of people parking in disability spaces without a placard were in fact abusing the spaces.

I like the idea of giving people the benefit of the doubt, but frankly, I'm tired of giving the other cheek. Why is it always people with disabilities that have to back down?

As for better ways than shame, there might be. But public advertising campaigns seem to make no difference. High fines seem to make no difference. Yet, Caughtya.org has already made a difference in many areas (three reports of a 75% decline of abuse in areas where photos were taken).

If someone's car appears on the site and they are genuine holder of a disability parking permit that they forgot to display, they have but to contact us and request the photo be removed.

eeka said...

I like the idea of giving people the benefit of the doubt, but frankly, I'm tired of giving the other cheek. Why is it always people with disabilities that have to back down?

This isn't what I'm saying. I'm saying that people need to advocate for parking spots in a way that doesn't risk humiliating or harassing someone who might also be a person with a disability. People with non-obvious disabilities, even when displaying a placard, routinely experience harassment from people who tell them they're abusing the system and so forth. Same with people who are displaying a placard in order to go inside and pick up a family member.

Even if the person is in fact abusing the spot, your assumption that they don't belong in the spot because you can't see a disability is ableist. As I pointed out before, many people who have placards are people whose disability causes them to be forgetful, disoriented, or in a state of panic when out in public. Many people with placards are caring for a family member whose multiple needs can be taxing. There's no need for us to add even more strain to people's lives in the name of activism. We can just as easily politely approach people and remind them to put up their placard. This is what I do; I sometimes find that the person forgot their placard, and other times I find that the person was abusing the space. I've never gotten a rude or abusive response.

I would be absolutely devastated though if I had said something implying the person didn't deserve the spot and they had in fact turned out to be someone who forgot their placard.