A disabled veteran from Texas said he was unable to park in a handicapped spot outside a polling station because an NBC camera crew was taking up the space to shoot a live spot.
James Berrie, who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, took to Facebook to share his story.
An NBC spokesperson responded to the incident, which has since gone viral and apologized for “making the wrong call” to take up handicap spots.
We made the wrong call today by using a disabled parking spot for our live shot in TX. There’s no excuse. I apologize to the two people who were on their way to vote as it’s one of the most important parts of our democracy; we’d never want to jeopardize anyone’s ability to do so
— Mariana Atencio (@marianaatencio) October 30, 2018
The crew covering Texas elections at the Bayland Community Center used two handicapped spaces and one handicapped loading zone to park a camera, lights, equipment and correspondent Mariana Atencio, Berrie said.
He and his wife, Sarah, drove their van to the center for early voting. When they arrived around 8 a.m., the couple saw MSNBC blocking the only van accessible parking spot. So the Berries parked in a back lot. Cars crammed around the couple’s van left little room for Berrie’s ramp and power chair to move.
“I didn’t even know what to do or to say because I was just shocked,” he said.
Berrie, who has multiple sclerosis, said the crew agreed to move when confronted. However, 15 minutes later when the couple finished voting and returned outside the crew remained.
“They had made no effort whatsoever to move,” Berrie said. “Their job is more important than accessibility. There were so many other places to do (their live shot). But you chose to do it here. We’re like, ‘No. We gotta stand up.'”
The couple asked MSNBC’s crew to move again. Even with help from a group of firefighters standing nearby nothing changed, Berrie said.
“(The MSNBC crew) kept coming back like we’ll move in two minutes,” he said. “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.’”
Berrie’s wife said a producer even kneeled on the ground at one point and begged for more time.
MSNBC offered no comment to KHOU 11 News.
On Twitter, though, Atencio apologized.
“We made the wrong call (Tuesday) by using a disabled parking spot for our live shot in (Texas),” she wrote. “There’s no excuse. I apologize to the two people who were on their way to vote as it’s one of the most important parts of our democracy. We’d never want to jeopardize anyone’s ability to do so.”