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Non-accessible transport strands Mississippi delegates

By Pam Kelley and Brittany Penland
pkelley@charlotteobserver.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. The Mississippi Democratic Party’s executive director blasted the Democratic National Convention Committee Tuesday for failing to provide adequate shuttle transportation for the state’s two delegates with disabilities.

Rickey Cole told the Observer he is “profoundly disappointed with this DNCC and its willingness to provide ADA transportation.”

Mississippi’s delegation first ran into problems Sunday, Cole said, when the bus that arrived at its Concord hotel wasn’t equipped to transport people with disabilities.

Its two members with disabilities, Elzena Johnson and Mary Troupe, along with others, waited for a second bus. It finally arrived, but then ran out of gas on a ramp to Interstate 85, Cole said.

The group had to wait again before finally making it to uptown Charlotte.

On Monday, the delegation used its own transportation for its delegates with disabilities because it again didn’t get an accessible shuttle, Cole said. Then on Tuesday, the accessible shuttle was two hours late.

At age 97, Mississippi’s Elzena Johnson may be the convention’s oldest delegate. She has had to rely on the help of two fellow delegates to lift her out of her wheelchair and carry her up shuttle bus steps.

“It’s been a bit of trouble,”Clements said Tuesday, especially with the rain.

It’s up to the Democratic National Convention Committee to provide shuttles to transport delegations.

Asked about bus problems Tuesday, a Democratic National Convention Committee spokesman said the DNCC has made a fully accessible shuttle system a priority.

The convention has about 300 delegates with disabilities or mobility problems.

Mississippi’s Cole says he’s unhappy. “This is my 12th national convention,” he said, “and this one has been the worst.”

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