DISABILITY RIGHTS ACTIVISTS PICKET DISCRIMINATORY QUEEN ST. RESTAURANT:
The following is a press release from OCAP, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty. It is about a recent picket of a Toronto restaurant that refuses to serve people in wheelchairs.
Media Release: Disability Rights Activists Picket Discriminatory Queen St Restaurant
- For Immediate Publication -
Disability Rights Activists Picket Discriminatory Queen St Restaurant
Friday, March 28, 2008
Aaron Shelbourne is a disability rights activist and a member of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP). He has Cerebral Palsy and uses Alternative Augmentative Communication (AAC), which involves using his eyes to communicate and the facilitation of an assistant.
Mr. Shelbourne went to Everest Restaurant on Queen St today to demand an apology from management that has told him they don't serve customers in wheelchairs, and asked him never to come back. Mr. Shelbourne was joined by 20 supporters today. Mr. Shelbourne entered Everest asking to speak with restaurant manager Karma Sanchok who had previously told him they don't serve people in wheelchairs. Mr. Shelbourne sought a public apology from Ms.Sanchok and the restaurant, and a promise that this kind of blatant discrimination would not continue. Ms. Sanchok refused to speak or engage with Aaron in any way, speaking only to his non-wheelchair-bound supporters and quickly retreating behind the counter refusing to apologize or speak directly to Mr. Shelbourne as a fellow human being. Ms. Sanchok proceeded to call the police to forcibly remove Mr. Shelbourne and his supporters from the restaurant.
Mr. Shelbourne's simple, just request for an apology was rudely ignored.This is unacceptable, and Mr. Shelbourne is not prepared to allow this kind of discrimination to continue unchallenged. He calls on supporters, allies and members of the public – especially those using wheelchairs – to go to Everest Restaurant and demand an explanation from the management!
Mr. Shelbourne and his supporters and allies will be back at Everest en masse in the near future, to pursue Mr. Shelbourne's just request for an apology and to ensure that this restaurant does not discriminate against people with disabilities with impunity.
Last week, Mr. Shelbourne went to Everest Restaurant & Lounge with one of his assistants. They had a meal, and at one point he had to use the washroom. It was not accessible and he nicked the door with his wheelchair going in.
As Mr. Shelbourne and his communication assistant were leaving the restaurant, after paying for their meals, the restaurant manager pulled Mr.Shelbourne's assistant aside and informed her that they were not welcome back. She said that the restaurant was newly renovated and wheelchairs aren't welcome because they cause damage.
"I am a person," says Mr. Shelbourne. "The worker at the restaurant didn't even come to tell me all of this herself but went to my assistant instead.I was angry because I am a human being and I have rights."
This Friday March 28th, with the help of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) and DAMN2025, Mr. Shelbourne returned to Everest Restaurant to seek redress, to send a loud message to management, its customers and the public that people who use wheelchairs have rights and this type of treatment is discriminatory and unacceptable!
Says Mr. Shelbourne: "I am demanding a public apology from the management of the restaurant. I want them to acknowledge that I am a person and that because I use a wheelchair, that doesn't make me any less of a person. If they don't like scratches on their bathroom doors they should make the washroom accessible!"