The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is to write to Manchester United and football’s Premier League after Disability News Service (DNS) passed on concerns that disabled fans had had their mobility aids confiscated by stewards.Staff at Manchester United’s Old Trafford ground tried to stop several Arsenal fans – including one supporter in his 80s – from taking their seats because they were using walking sticks, which stewards claimed could be used as weapons.They were visiting Britain’s richest football club to watch what was billed as one of the biggest matches of the season, on 17 May.The stewards told the London club’s disabled supporters that they would not be allowed to watch the match because they had not alerted the club about their equipment in advance.They claimed the fans could also pose a health and safety risk in the event of a stadium evacuation.The disabled supporters were only allowed into the stadium to take their seats after the intervention of an officer from Greater Manchester police.But after they had been escorted to their seats, their sticks were confiscated and held by stewards until the end of the match, on 17 May.After DNS asked the EHRC to comment, it said today (Friday) that it was writing urgently to both Manchester United and the Premier League to raise concerns about the treatment of disabled fans. It warned that it had not ruled out legal action.A police spokesman confirmed the incident had taken place and that the Arsenal fans had only been allowed into the stadium after the officer called the stadium control room to seek clarification of the ground regulations.The spokesman said: “He was told if able, the supporters could use their walking aids to reach their seats and these would then be stored by stewards throughout the game and returned post match.”But he declined to comment when asked if the force was comfortable with the club’s policy.Manchester Utd has been repeatedly criticised for failing to provide the recommended number of spaces for wheelchair-users at Old Trafford.It admitted last August that it only had 120 wheelchair spaces, when official guidance states that there should be at least 280.A Manchester Utd spokesman said: “Our club policy is to encourage any supporters who require the use of crutches or a walking aid to contact the club in advance to ensure each case is adequately risk assessed and that we can ensure safe evacuation in the event of emergency.“On some rare occasions, we have also experienced such devices being used as weapons.“This policy is displayed at the turnstiles and on our website. The disability liaison officers from both clubs also communicate this policy in advance.“Where supporters arrive without having pre-notified us of the need for such devices, our stewarding team performs a dynamic risk assessment which usually involves finding a solution to accompany the supporter to their seat and storing the walking device during the game.“At the game in question, a significant number of visiting supporters who had not pre-notified the club arrived with walking devices.“Therefore the above system was put into place. No person was refused entry to the stadium.”When asked whether the club would be apologising to the disabled fans, and whether it was concerned that it might have breached the Equality Act, the spokesman refused to comment further.Speaking before the news emerged of the EHRC’s action, a spokesperson for Level Playing Field (LPF), the user-led organisation that works to improve access to sporting venues, said: “Manchester United is, by all accounts, the only Premier League club with this policy.“LPF would always advise clubs not to confiscate walking aids (such as walking sticks or crutches) from disabled fans and believes that such a practice may even be deemed as discriminatory.”Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief legal officer at the EHRC, told DNS: “Over the past months, we have received a number of complaints about provision for disabled fans at the Premier League. “This has included discriminatory policies that prevent disabled fans having the same opportunities to attend football matches as non-disabled people.“Complaints have been about disabled fans being prevented from obtaining season tickets, a lack of adequate space for wheelchair-users, and problems for families with young disabled children being unable to sit together to enjoy a game. “Some of the most recent complaints have concerned Manchester United and the removal of walking aids from disabled away fans. “We are writing to both the Premier League and to Manchester United today to seek urgent assurances that disabled fans will be treated fairly and equally as the law requires. “We are also seeking urgent meetings with them to clear up the issues which have been identified and agree commitments to early progress.” She added: “Premier League clubs have a legal duty under the Equality Act 2010 to ensure reasonable adjustment for disabled fans and to make sure they do not discriminate against them in the provision of goods and services.“While our preference is always to work with organisations to avoid costly legal proceedings, all options remain on the table because disabled fans deserve better.”A spokeswoman for the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) said: “We can’t comment on specific incidents at clubs as we don’t know the facts.”But she added: “The SGSA believes disabled fans should be able to support their team and have access into sports grounds.”She said the authority did not have the regulatory powers to take action against a club for anything other than breaching the rule that Premier League and Championship clubs have to be all-seater stadiums.She added: “The SGSA’s aim is to ensure the safety of all spectators at sports grounds. We strongly promote accessibility at sports grounds and have created guidance that sets out the standards for accessible provision at stadiums.“We are working with our partners at the Department for Culture Media and Sport and Level Playing Field to promote the importance of accessibility at sports grounds.“We use our influence on safety advisory groups to promote accessibility and any other issues that we think need to be improved.”But she added: “As it currently stands, it is down to the individual to take action against a club if they feel they have been discriminated against.”An Arsenal spokesman said: “We are sorry to hear of the difficulties experienced by our disabled supporters and will be working closely with our travelling fans to avoid any similar situations next season.”He declined to comment further.Picture: Old Trafford by Wikistadiums.org is licensed under https://creativecommons.org/
0% The building, located at 1899 Mission St. near 15th Street, had its window smashed two months ago, said Amy Kozlowski, an employee of the building’s new tenant. She returned to the building on Monday and found the Kapernick mural painted over plywood she had nailed to the broken window. “The first reaction was, ‘That’s awesome,’” said Kozlowski, a project manager with the coworking space company Impact Hub, which is planning a move there in early 2017. “I think it’s a beautifully done mural and they’re reflecting Kaepernick’s statement.”The 49ers quarterback has been kneeling during the national anthem of football games since August 26 to protest the treatment of minorities by the police.The Kaepernick mural was painted after another mural from Precita Eyes that Impact Hub commissioned some six months ago had to be painted over, Kozlowski said. That mural — of Disney characters, one holding an anti-eviction sign — was ruined when someone smashed the building’s window with a brick, she said. Kozlowski was forced to board up the window and paint over the mural when it was defaced with graffiti — which began occurring weekly.Kozlowski said she does not know who the artist is, who left a “Dino 2016” signature on the mural, but was appreciative of the artwork. She hopes the Kaepernick mural will stay as long as possible, but it will have to be removed when Impact Hub moves into the building and she removes the plywood covering the broken window. Impact Hub is planning to move from its SoMa location in February or March next year, she said, but until that time she invited others to beautify the side of the building.“I would welcome all artists to do the other side of the building,” she said. “It would only be for a few months, but if someone wants to do something where there’s no profanity, I would love to encourage any one who wants to paint something on the other side.”Kaepernick has faced intense backlash for the protest, including from the San Francisco Police Officers Association, the police union, which sent a letter to the National Football League asking that the quarterback apologize for his protest. The Santa Clara police officers union even suggested its officers may boycott security at football games as a result. In the Mission District at least, which has seen three controversial police shootings in the last two and a half years, Kaepernick’s actions were better received. Football players at Mission High knelt in solidarity with Kaepernick last month with the support of their coach and principal.Many of the players spoke of their own experiences being racially profiled by police officers in San Francisco.The captain of the team, who is from the Bayview-Hunter’s Point, said the black community has been affected by the December 2015 fatal police shooting of Mario Woods. The shooting sparked city-wide protests against the then-police chief, Greg Suhr, who resigned in May after another fatal police shooting in the Bayview.The student said he felt unsafe to be around police officers since the Woods shooting.In the Bayview, another mural supporting Kaepernick was painted recently, according to Hoodline. The Bayview mural is similar to the Mission one but has the caption “Believe the Message, Not the Hype.” Colin Kaepernick’s protest against police brutality landed in the Mission District this week, when a mural of him kneeling was painted on the side of an empty building. Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0%
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