"Who Dat say Dey Can't Ride Dem Cars", "Let My People Ride" and "Paint a Red One Green" were the chants as New Orleans mayoral candidate Jonah Bascle blocked the RTA streetcar line with his wheelchair at Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive and St. Charles Avenue today.
The latter chant is regarding red streetcars line which has wheelchair lifts, but doesn't pick up passengers on the St. Charles Streetcar line. Part of the "Jonah Stands Up" campaign slogan has been to require full ADA compliance for the RTA streetcar line. Jonah has met with local RTA officials, but they told him that the issue is at the national level because the green streetcars have national historic register significance.
The RTA does provide bus rides for the disabled if arrangements are made in advance, but Jonah says the rides end at 10:30 and many need access to later transportation.
Some of the streetcar riders were upset at the delay, and upon exiting and one said, "They should be shot." Jonah answered, "They can get off and walk to take a bus. I can't." Word got out quickly and passing cars began to honk. Dozens of supporters wore Jonah for Mayor buttons picturing a streetcar.
In a social media twist, the candidate tweeted from the tracks from his @johanbascle account: "Out protesting! Blocking the streetcars!"
Streetcars from each direction were turned back, and RTA busses were sent for the streetcar passengers. RTA officials and police officers arrived to question Bascle, then left. If there had been an arrest, it would have required a fully accessible vehicle. News crews from all the local television stations came to interview the candidate during his protest, so his goal of media awareness for accessibility was accomplished, even though the red streetcar never came.
At the end of the protest, Jonah boarded an RTA bus that was temporarily replacing the streetcars. It only ran to where the streetcar line started up again, so he couldn't get on board. The bus brought him back to the site of the original protest.
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