Bishop William Barber retains legal counsel at AMC Theaters – Deadline

“No one is going to let me take my chair home. God made me. I belong here. I have a right to where I sit. You can only take my chair when I die and go to heaven. Until then, I'm fighting.”

At a press conference today about being asked to leave over a dispute over seating at AMC Fire Tower 12 in Greenville, NC, Rev. Dr. William Barber said.

Bishop Barber, 60, has long suffered from an arthritis called ankylosing spondylitis. He travels with his own chair and always uses it instead of the seats provided in public places.

However, on Tuesday, he says, staff at the theater would not allow him to use his special chair, saying it was a fire hazard. Only wheelchairs are allowed, he said. He was asked to leave, the police were called and Rev. Barber left.

Bishop said he has been in touch with AMC Theaters boss Adam Aaron. “I am encouraged [by] AMC's CEO and Chairman is Brother Aaron. He asked if he could meet me in Greenville and discuss in detail.

Aaron, Rev. According to Barber, “he made it clear that this was not the way AMC was supposed to work.

“I've actually talked to him several times. He's honest and I believe he's serious,” Rev. Barber told the assembled media. “He doesn't benefit from people playing in his theaters. No CEO wants people to come around to make his company look stupid.

Asked by a local reporter if he was ready to go after the apology, Rev. Barber said, “I have already accepted the apology. Forgiveness is the beginning. The next steps, in his mind, are to meet Aaron face-to-face and make sure what happened to him doesn't happen again.

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“My first goal is to meet with the president directly,” Bishop declared, “because: this. should. have. never. should. happen.”

He repeatedly referred to the Americans with Disabilities Act and the 145th Amendment, and made it clear that his controversy was not race, but disability.

“This should not have been a police-intensive situation. The police should not have been threatened with trespassing charges… The law is clear. Title 3 prohibits discrimination based on disability in activities or public accommodations.

Asked if he was blocking the aisle, the bishop said no. In fact, he said he was previously the director of human relations for the state of North Carolina and was familiar with the relevant laws.

At the time of the incident, a manager said, “I was told to come back with a doctor's note.” They also said they brought armed security during the altercation and one of them taunted him as he left.

Bishop clarified that he did not blame law enforcement, who apologized to him after leaving the theater.

Asked what he would say to Aaron when they met in person, Rev. Barber noted that he kept it private. But he said, “Believe me, if we don't see a difference, there are many things we can do… I've got council and advice. [Civil rights attorney] Harry M. Daniels and Maria Towne, President and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities.

“But we're not there yet,” he said. “It's about systemic changes, what policy changes need to be made so that this doesn't happen to anyone.”

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