The Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP and leader of the Moral Monday movement, is suing American Airlines, saying it removed him from a flight in April because he’s black.
Barber filed a suit in federal court against the airline on Wednesday in Alexandria, Va., The Washington Post reported. Barber is asking for an unspecified amount of money in damages, along with changes to airline policies.
In April, Barber was on a flight that was about to leave Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., when the plane returned to a gate because of a “disruptive passenger,” the airline said. The passenger was removed, and the flight arrived 40 minutes late at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.
No charges were filed in the incident, but Barber said in April that he got into a verbal altercation with another passenger on the flight who made disparaging remarks about him and his physical disability. Because of a bone-fusion arthritic disability, Barber said, he has to buy two seats on planes.
Barber, of Goldsboro, was returning to North Carolina from a speaking event. He said that at his request a flight attendant asked a loud nearby passenger to “bring it down a little bit.” But Barber said the other passenger said “he had problems with ‘those people’ and he spoke harshly about my need for ‘two seats,’ among other subjects.”
Barber said his disability kept him from turning in his seat to face the other passenger, so he got up. But then, he said, an airline official told him he had to leave the plane.