When a person has unresolved inner rage, it’s easy for them to find some person or “cause” upon which to unleash their fury. That’s what happened in Tampa Bay last week, when a man confronted a woman who had parked in an accessible parking place without a permit.
The attached news story gives the details: the woman’s boyfriend returned to the car, saw the man yelling at his girlfriend, and pushed the man to the ground. Upon being pushed, the man pulled out his gun and shot the other man to death.
The District Attorney is apparently not going to press charges against the shooter, because of Florida’s ”stand your ground” law.
My purpose is not to challenge the use of that law in this situation, although I think a case could be easily be made that the law does not apply. I just want to reiterate the obvious: no cause, not even the integrity of the Americans with Disabilites Act, could ever justify this result.
And it is a stark reminder for all of us (especially those who, like myself, have occasionally confronted people whom I believed were unlawfully parked in those spaces) to be cognizant of how quickly a conversation can lead to unspeakable tragedy.
Twenty-nine years ago, it was fine for your potential employer to ask if you had ever had back surgery, had filed a workers’ compensation claim, or had recently spent time in the hospital.If you were a wheelchair user and had business at the upstairs county courthouse, you had two choices: ask the guards to carry you up or drag yourself up on your stomach.And since there was also no requirement that sidewalks have curb cuts, you had to take your chances when you rolled yourself down the sidewalk and then hoped to get yourself and your wheelchair safely onto the street.This sad landscape changed forever in 1990, when the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed. As discussed elsewhere in this website, the ADA requires non-discrimination and reasonable accommodation in areas like employment, state and local government and most private businesses that are open to the public.Of course, there are still massive violations of the ADA everywhere you look. The difference, however, is that there now is some legal apparatus to turn to for redress. And the more people do that, the more that things like elevators and curb cuts will become the norm.If you want some quick and thorough education about the ADA and other disability laws, go to https://adata.org. You will find a treasure trove of easy-to read explanations, as well as examples, recent court cases and even quizzes to test how much you have learned.And…it’s free!Happy Birthday, ADA!
Anyone with mobility problems understands the value of curb cuts. Without them, we are much more vulnerable and unsafe.
We may try to somehow jump our wheelchairs or walkers up onto the curb, or try to use our canes as pole vaults as we “leap” from street to sidewalk. We may try to use the street as an erstwhile sidewalk, or ask a stranger for help. But the most likely thing is that we will simply decide that the danger is not worth the risk and turn back. This is one of the ways that people with disabilities are effectively shut out of events and activities that are routine for most people.
This kind of dilemma is largely why the AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (ADA) was enacted. One of the ADA’s requirements is that cities build curb cuts into newly-constructed sidewalks or into sidewalks that are being repaired or otherwise altered.
I live in Portland, Oregon, which is famous for being progressive, green and extremely bicycle-friendly. But Portland was recently sued by wheelchair users, who claimed that the city was not installing enough curb cuts nor adequately maintaining the sidewalks.
Portland has just settled this case for $13 million dollars. Part of the agreement is that the city will construct 1500 curb cuts a year.