“It’s Hard Out Here for a Gimp”

It took nearly 3 months but I was pressed into service as a general assignment reporter today.

ADAPT, the national group representing the handicapped and physically challenged are in Nashville to persuade Governor Bredesen and other lawmakers to be more senstive and aware of issues that relate to them. Monday, after the Governor didn’t come down to hear them personally, they wheeled their chairs into the streets around the capitol and blocked traffic for a couple of hours.

We had another vj, Andy Cordan, our go-to hard news guy, taking a closer look at what the group is demanding. But suspecting they would block traffic again, producers sent me down for a 4 o’clock live shot and to be ready for a 6 in case things got out of hand again.

I had forgotten how much fun these types of things can be. There were about 200 protesters in the cold and rainy weather. At first they simply pointed their speakers at the capitol building and shouted their demands. Then they sent a few representatives up to present their demands but were turned away by state troopers.

I shot some video of state troopers walking down the capitol steps to prevent the protesters from doing what they did yesterday. Some crawled out of their wheelchairs Monday and using their arms, crawled their way up the steps before threatening to chain themselves to the building. A state trooper told me “that ain’t happening today”.

I was standing next to the organizer of the protest, a wheelchair bound older man who had come to Nashville from out of town. He’s a professional at organizing these protests and I’d seen him a few years earlier when ADAPT came to Memphis.
He was on the phone and obviously did not want me to hear his conversation. I rolled tape when I heard him ask the person on the other end of the phone “so do you want to move into the streets?”. He turned his back to me. I moved around. He turned again. I moved again. Then he hit the “go” button on his electric wheelchair to get away from me. A few minutes later I was rolling as he crossed the street, gave the signal and led the protesters into the middle of the street.

Metro police warned them they would be arrested and unlike yesterday (when they were issued citations) today they would have to go before a judge and post bond before being released.

We hit our live shot at 4 and then again at 4:30 when police started picking them up and hauling them off. We hit again at 6 with a vo/sot and another sot.

Yeah, it wasn’t religion or ethics and I wouldn’t want to do this everyday, but it was exciting to be chasing news again. When we get relocated and I have my full arsenal of technology, I’ll have my handy digital still camera to post pics on this blog. Today would have been a good one for that.


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