Wednesday, June 19, 2024

AMC Theatres Apologizes After Civil Rights Leader Says He was Kicked Out of A North Carolina Movie Theater | WATCH

*(CNN) — Civil rights leader Bishop William J. Barber says he was kicked out of a North Carolina movie theater while attempting to see “The Color Purple” for trying to use his own chair in the disabled section.

Barber, 60, said he tried to use the special chair he brought in the disabled section of the Greenville theater on Tuesday afternoon and was told by staff he couldn’t do that.

The former NAACP North Carolina chapter president told CNN he has a medical condition that makes it impossible to sit in a regular chair. He said he walks with two canes and his assistant carries a special chair everywhere he goes.

In video of the incident shared by Barber with CNN, the chair appears to be a stool-type chair with a backrest and no arms. Barber has a form of arthritis known as ankylosing spondylitis, which causes inflammation in the joints and ligaments of the spine, according to the National Institutes of Health.

“I’ve used this chair everywhere,” Barber said. “Broadway, the White House, I’ve never had a problem,” he added.

The Greenville Police Department confirmed officers arrived at the AMC Fire Tower 12 after receiving a call for trespassing. Officers said the caller stated a customer was arguing with employees and the employees wanted the customer removed.

After a conversation with Barber, he agreed to leave the theater voluntarily and no charges were filed, according to a Greenville police statement.

“I felt like I wasn’t being heard,” Barber said. “It felt as though they weren’t even trying to consider making accommodations for my disability,” he added.

Bishop William J. Barber II (Caroline Brehman-CQ-Roll Call, Inc-Getty Images)
Bishop William J. Barber II (Caroline Brehman-CQ-Roll Call, Inc-Getty Images)

AMC representatives said in a statement obtained by CNN affiliate WITN that they have apologized to Barber.

“AMC’s Chairman and CEO Adam Aron has already telephoned him, and plans to meet with him in person in Greenville, NC, next week to discuss both this situation and the good works Bishop Barber is engaged in throughout the years,” the statement reads. “We are also reviewing our policies with our theater teams to help ensure that situations like this do not occur again.”

The company also encouraged guests requiring seating accommodations to speak with a manager beforehand to see what can be done.

Barber had planned to see the film with his 90-year-old mother that day, he said.

“I had to leave the theater without my mom. She was left behind with an assistant because I didn’t want to get arrested,” Barber said.

Barber said he will be holding a news conference Friday to address the situation.

In 1993, Barber joined Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, and over the next three decades, he became renowned for his work addressing issues such as poverty, inequality and racism. He served as president of the North Carolina NAACP chapter from 2005 until 2017.

CNN’s Sharif Paget contributed to this report

MORE NEWS ON EURWEB: Civil Rights Leader Bishop William J. Barber II Retires from Preaching | Video

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