Man's fury after row over disabled park at McDonald's

Nadine Carroll
·3-min read

A man with an artificial leg has spoken out on TikTok after he was approached by a woman who questioned his use of a disability parking permit.

Paniora Nukunuku, who goes by the handle @pnuks on the video sharing platform, was parked in a Sydney McDonald's parking lot when he said a woman knocked on his window and demanded to know if the disability parking permit displayed on his windshield belonged to him.

"It's not your business if we have this card! You are not the disability police!" an angry Mr Nukunuku said in the video that has been viewed over 130,000 times.

Paniora Nukunuku holding his disability parking permit (left) and showing his artificial leg (right).
Paniora Nukunuku (pictured), who has a artificial leg, said a woman approached him and questioned his use of a disability parking permit because he doesn't look 'old or disable enough'. Source: TikTok/pnuks

"Even if someone doesn't look old or look disabled enough you, shut your mouth and you walk away," he continued.

Mr Nukunuku followed in a second video where he films his prosthetic leg before confronting the woman inside the fast food chain.

The woman tells Mr Nukunuku that there have been times she "desperately needed it (a disable parking space) and there hasn't been one," before a frustrated Mr Nukunuku interrupts her.

"I've got one leg and you come up to me asking if this disability card is mine?" he asks.

"I did and I have a right to," the woman replies.

"There is a reason we have the card, so this doesn't happen, so you don't assume that someone isn't disabled enough," Mr Nukunuku explains.

Mr Nukunuku isn't alone. In January, Paralympic gold medalist Jessica Long was confronted while parking her car and told she "shouldn't park there" when pulling into a reserved disability parking bay.

The 28-year-old from the US state of Maryland was born with fibular hemimelia and had both her legs amputated when she was 18 months old, and she said the incident wasn't a one off.

"I get it, I'm young, I'm athletic, but I'm also missing legs and I know I make it look easy, but it's still really hard. My legs are heavy, they hurt me, I'm in pain. That's why I park in handicap," Ms Long explained in a TikTok video about the incident.

“So to all the handicap police out there, just be kind. You don't need to know why someone's parked in the handicap.”

Jessica Long says she was abused for parking in a disability space. Source: TikTok/@Jessicatatianalong
Jessica Long says she was abused for parking in a disability space. Source: TikTok/ @Jessicatatianalong

'Happens far too often'

Both videos attracted thousands of comments from people praising the pair for speaking up, many of whom said they had experienced similar issues when using reserved disability parking.

“He’s standing up for something that happens far too often,” one person commented.

“Thank you for sticking up for yourself. I have invisible disabilities and I am tired of the stigma,” another wrote.

Mr Nukunuku responded to some people questioning how he handled the situation, who suggested he should have calmly told the women he was disable instead of confronting her.

“There are people using fake disability cards, people like me are just checking,” one person commented.

Mr Nukunuku said he felt that situation was less likely to happen in Sydney and insists he had a right to confront the woman.

“There is a strict process with health professionals and government issue. It’s hard to obtain,” he said.

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