VAN NUYS, Calif. — A local Chevrolet dealership was besieged by a group of sight-handicapped individuals on Thursday, expressing outrage over the terminology of a particular driver assistance feature found in newer models like the 2024 Chevy Malibu, whose Chevy Safety Assist sensor suite calls it “Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert.”
Six blind people—or “persons with a visual impairment,” as Kenneth Jernigan of the National Federation of the Blind suggests—stumbled into the showroom shortly before noon and began wreaking havoc on staff, customers, and vehicles. Witnesses say the protestors feigned normalcy before suddenly breaking and vandalizing items, trying to demonstrate “what it really means” to have a ‘blind spot.’
“I was just sitting at my desk when somebody reached over the counter and slammed my laptop shut on my fingers,” explained Diana, the front-office receptionist. “She said sarcastically, ‘Oops, I couldn’t see your laptop there since I’m ACTUALLY BLIND.’ Then she picked up my candle and took a bite out of it. I think she thought it was an apple.”
Many of Chevy’s newer models come standard with—or have available—Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert, a safety feature that informs the driver when a vehicle is in their ‘blind spot’ as they attempt to merge or change lanes. Every General Motors subsidiary knows this feature by the same name, while automakers like Ford and Volkswagen have their own designations: BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) and Active Blind Spot Monitor, respectively.
“Blind spots,” the National Safety Council writes, “are any areas around a vehicle that a driver cannot easily see. Typically, these are the edges just behind and to the side of the vehicle, but they can show up anywhere a driver’s vision is blocked.”
Automotive design and operation have relied on this term for over a century, having adopted it from boats and trains; today, it’s also used for aircraft. However, some members of the blind community—particularly those who drive regularly—have taken offense and are now becoming vocal.
“Only three percent of drivers are ACTUALLY blind!” one female protestor is remembered to have said. “You people are perfectly capable of turning your heads and looking! LOOKING! Something I’ve never been able to do!”
Another shouted, “All spots are ‘blind spots’ to us!”
Edward, a sales associate, shared this story: “I was in the middle of showing a customer the trunk space in the new Malibu. Out of nowhere, I heard the front door open, so I looked over and, as other protestors started shouting, this guy with big boxy sunglasses started PEEING onto the driver’s seat. He claimed he couldn’t tell if he was at a toilet or not because he was ‘actually blind.'”
Across the showroom, another protestor had popped the hood of a 2024 Chevy Trailblazer and began urinating on the engine block. When dealership personnel tried to stop him, he likewise said he didn’t know if he was facing a urinal, citing his visual impairment.
“The first guy shouted over at him,” Edward recalled, “saying he said HE was going to do ‘the peeing thing.’ The second guy said he had swapped their roles ‘on the board,’ and then something like, ‘You were supposed to do the fondling.’ The first guy said, ‘That’s not fair. You know I can’t SEE the board. If you changed it, you should’ve told me.'”
“He’s still peeing, by the way, as he’s saying this,” Edward said. (Other witness statements corroborated.) “Then he said, ‘You still have twenty percent vision, Reggie, but I’m ACTUALLY blind.’ And then the second guy—Reggie, I guess—said that HE was blind, too, and then they started arguing about the definition of blindness, and who all was blind and who was ‘visually impaired’ and etcetera.”
Edward said this debate continued for about five minutes. “They actually made some pretty good points,” he said.
Police then arrived and arrested the protestors: three men and three women between the ages of 24 and 66.
“This one older woman,” Diana recalled, “as she was being led out the door, she was walking with both a cane and a tapping, like, one of those blind-people tapping canes—so, like, a walking cane and a tapping cane—and she said, ‘Just call it a hard-to-see spot. That’s all we ask.’ And then she tripped on the threshold and ate shit on the concrete, like, real bad.”
The LAPD has not released the names of the offenders nor a list of charges. The dealership has likewise wished not to be named.
No vehicles had to be towed from the premises. When asked how they arrived at the dealership, one of the protestors said they “took the bus.” Apparently, their licenses had all been suspended or revoked.