RALEIGH, N.C. – The architect of the progressive movement known as "Moral Monday" said he was removed from an American Airlines flight after he responded to a passenger who made disparaging remarks.
The Rev. William Barber said in a statement he was removed Friday from a flight from Washington Reagan to Raleigh-Durham.
A nearby passenger said loudly that he had problems with "those people" and criticized Barber's need to purchase two airline seats for himself, said Barber, who is also president of the state chapter of the NAACP.
Before the crew gave safety instructions, he said he stood up and turned around to respond. An arthritic condition prevented him from turning around in his seat to address the other passenger, Barber said.
A crew member apparently called police, who came on the plane and asked Barber to leave, he said.
"The American Airlines team at the desk was very gracious," Barber said. "Many said they were concerned and some said they did not agree with the decision."
American Airlines spokesman Matt Miller said Sunday that a passenger who didn't follow crew instructions was removed from a flight. He said the passenger also grabbed a flight attendant but was allowed to travel the next morning on an American flight.
When asked why a passenger who grabbed a flight attendant would be allowed on another plane, Miller said "each situation is unique. It was a cordial situation beyond that one incident so there was no further concern from our perspective."
Barber said he had traveled to Washington, D.C., to speak at a national interfaith event that launched the 2016 Ecumenical Advocacy Days.
" ... I am not at all happy about what I believe were the real reasons I was the one asked to leave," Barber said, adding that he has turned the matter over to attorneys.
The flight arrived at RDU shortly before midnight, about 40 minutes late, Miller said.