November 03, 2005

Norfolk VA crips protest ampitheather lawn ban

Thanks to Ivy Kennedy for alerting us to this story.

"Amphitheater, show some class!.
We want access to the grass!"

Chants of the Young Endependence Advocates could be heard above the crowd milling before the Def Leppard concert at the Verizon Wireless Virginia Beach Amphitheater a few weeks ago. The protesters -- from the Endependence Center of Norfolk, Virginia, an independent living center, were angry that officials refused to allow wheelchairs on the grass, where concert-goers sit. "Warning -- Discrimination In Progress," read their signs.

The Center sued the Ampitheater in 1996 under the Americans with Disabilities Act, claiming multiple access violations -- including the facility's refusal to let them onto the grass for lawn seating.

In 1997, the city of Norfolks agreed to some changes. "Lawn seating" was not one of them.

Mark Warner, project manager for the Virginia Beach Development Authority, told reporters that crips already had enough access and that lawn seating was off limits because it "isn't safe."

Allowing wheelchairs on the grassy hill, which seats 13,500 and slopes down from 60 feet, would be a liability, he said.

"What would you do with a wheelchair once you got it up there?" Warner asked. "They would be stuck in a corner where they can't move around. We have an obligation to provide a safe environment for all customers of the amphitheater."

More from Ivy Kennedy's website.

Posted on November 03, 2005