AMC Apologizes After Civil Rights Leader Says He Was Kicked Out of Theater

Hollywood Gossip
2 min readDec 29, 2023

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II said he has a form of arthritis and was trying to use a special chair in the theater’s disabled section for a screening of ‘The Color Purple.’

BY CARLY THOMAS DECEMBER 29, 2023

Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II BENNETT RAGLIN/GETTY IMAGES

AMC Theatres has issued an apology after a North Carolina civil rights leader said he was kicked out of a theater for trying to use his own chair in the disabled section.

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, a former president of the NAACP North Carolina chapter, was attempting to attend a screening of The Color Purple on Tuesday at an AMC Cineplex in Greenville, North Carolina. He told CNN that he suffers from a form of arthritis known as ankylosing spondylitis and is unable to sit in regular chairs.

Barber said he tried to use a special chair he brought with him in the disabled section of the theater but that staff stopped him and told him he couldn’t. Barber noted that he walks with two canes and uses his special chair everywhere he goes and has “never had a problem.”

Local police officers were called to the theater for a trespassing call, CNN reported. Once they got there, they found a customer arguing with employees. Police said Barber agreed to leave voluntarily and that no charges were filed.

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

AMC later apologized to Barber, writing in a statement, “We sincerely apologize to Bishop Barber for how he was treated, and for the frustration and inconvenience brought to him, his family, and his guests.”

The statement added that AMC’s chairman and CEO Adam Aron called Barber and plans to meet with him in person next week “to discuss both this situation and the good works Bishop Barber is engaged in throughout the years.”

AMC said it welcomes guests with disabilities, and it encourages customers who require special seating to speak with a manager in advance. The theater chain’s statement continued, “We are also reviewing our policies with our theater teams to help ensure that situations like this do not occur again.”

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