Disabled woman moved at concert
Published Monday, July 7, 2008 10:35PM PDT
When George Michael took to the stage at GM Place, Brandy Cook should have been over the moon.
But instead, Cook and her sister were forced from their $250 seats because security said Cook's wheelchair was a fire safety hazard, the sisters say.
"I've been in a wheelchair for a long time, and I have never felt so humiliated and so discriminated against by people," said Cook.
A GM Place spokesperson said the sisters were asked to move for safety reasons.
"The guest on Friday night was provided several options once learning that sitting on the floor was not an option," said TC Carling.
On Friday, George Michael appeared in Vancouver for the first time in 17 years.
Cook -- who has been a quadriplegic since a car accident 14 years ago -- and her sister Glenda Menham were so excited, she said.
"I've been a fan for 20 years, since I was 13 years old," said Brandy Cook.
"I joined the fan club, paid the money to be a fan, and then was able to buy my tickets a week in advance," said Cook.
They bought $250 floor seats, row 14, on the aisle, to accommodate Cook's wheelchair.
But when they arrived at GM place last night, the security said Cook's wheelchair was a fire hazard.
"I was bombarded with security right away saying there was no way I could sit where I had tickets for," she said.
"They said, you have three options, you can be reimbursed right now, you can go to 300, or you can sit right at the back," she said.
They moved to the floor, at the very back, by the speakers. They couldn't see a thing.
"The concert started, everyone stood up, and we looked at each other and started crying," said Cook's sister Glenda Menham.
She moved up again to see, but security told them if they moved from her spot again they'd be escorted out of the building.
They moved again, to level 300, far from the floor seats they bought. The sisters say they got t-shirts from the management at the end of the concert but that wasn't enough.
"We have the 2010 Olympics coming, we have a mayor who's quadriplegic. We should be leaps and bounds ahead of most other cities, and I didn't see that last night at all," said Cook's mother Bev Cook.
B.C. Paraplegic Association spokesperson Stephanie Cadieux says Cook's treatment was "upsetting."
"It would appear that some of the staff maybe have not had the opportunity to learn to work with people with disabilities, haven't had sensitivity training, or need a refresher," said Cadieux.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Shannon Paterson