Atlanta Police Ticket Woman with Disability for Parking Legally

A disability license plate, similar to the one ignored by the Atlanta Police Department. Pic courtesy of Le Rosier.

Anne Harper had a problem. Other residents at her apartment complex frequently flouted both law and decency to park their cars in spots reserved for people with disabilities. Since she needed the extra space provided by these spots in order to get in and out of her wheelchair, this behavior was a major inconvenience for Harper. So you think she’d be relieved that the Atlanta Police Department took to patrolling her lot.

You’d be wrong.

The APD inexplicably gave Harper a ticket for parking in one of these spots. The strangest part: the officer had to write down her license plate number on the ticket, so there seems to be no way he could have missed that the plate is clearly stamped as belonging to a person with a disability. To its credit, the police department seems to be attempting to rectify the situation:

Atlanta police spokesperson Curtis Davenport told Viteri in a statement, “After looking into the incident, we have determined the ticket was written in error. We are working with the court system to have the citation dismissed.”

While I’m glad WSB-TV brought this story to light, I’d also like to take this opportunity to suggest that they use some person-first language next time they write about Georgians with disabilities. “Handicapped drivers,” “non-handicapped people”–this is the jargon of another time. Nowadays, we recognize that people aren’t defined by whether or not they have disabilities–not handicaps, disabilities. Disabilities are something that they have, not something that they are. Hence, they are “people with disabilities,” not “disabled people.”

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