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Movie Theater Employee Reportedly Called Police On Rev. Dr. William Barber II, Forced His Removal After He Tried To Use Special Chair For Medical Condition


Noam Galai/Getty Images for Clinton Global Initiative)

A civil rights leader says he was kicked out of a North Carolina movie theater while attempting to see “The Color Purple” with his mother for trying to use his own chair in the disabled section.

In an area for disabled guests, Bishop William Barber II brought a special chair, but the theater staff reportedly expressed concerns about the chair’s safety because of where it was placed.

According to CNN, the former president of the NAACP North Carolina chapter stated that he cannot sit on a regular chair due to a medical issue. Barber suffers from ankylosing spondylitis, a kind of arthritis that causes inflammation in the spine’s ligaments and joints.

He uses the chair to help ease the pain. “I’ve used this chair everywhere,” Barber told CNN. “Broadway, the White House, I’ve never had a problem,” he added.

According to Barber, he was threatened with trespassing charges when he refused to leave and was escorted out by local police officers.

“If I cannot sit in my chair in a theater in Greenville, North Carolina, there are thousands of other people who will be excluded from public spaces in this nation,” Barber added. “This is now about what systemic changes, policy changes, changes to training can ensure this happens to no one.”

The Greenville Police Department confirmed that officers responded to the local AMC theater after receiving a trespassing call, CNN reports.

Barber left the theater voluntarily and was not charged with any crime, according to the Associated Press.

AMC representatives issued an apology to Barber and his family in a statement CNN reports, “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 says. “We are also reviewing our policies with our theater teams to help ensure that situations like this do not occur again.”

AMC said it encourages guests who require special seating to speak with a manager in advance to see how the theater can best accommodate them. The company said it is reviewing policies “to help ensure that situations like this do not occur again.”

Barber is scheduled to meet with AMC representatives on Jan. 2.


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