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Disabled woman allegedly denied access to Artpark for carrying backpack

Posted at 6:31 PM, Jul 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-27 18:31:53-04

What was supposed to be a fun concert experience at Artpark Tuesday night, has Penny Dietz singing a different tune. “They were telling people ahead to watch out for us like we were criminals.”

 

The South Buffalo woman said it's all because she tried to bring a backpack into the Melissa Etheridge and Pat Benatar show. She said security asked her to leave it outside. “I told her I can't. I have medication in there and medical things that I need.”

The 45 year old suffers from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis; a condition that requires special medical supplies with her at all times. Penny said at first, they asked her to put the contents of her backpack into a clear plastic bag. “I said I can't do that. I can't put my personal belongings in there because they're personal.”

 

Eventually, she said she and her niece were asked to leave the park all together. Security signs show backpacks are prohibited. “Everybody in line behind us is telling him: she's disabled,” said Penny’s niece, Ashley Dietz. “You can't do this. Everything about this is wrong.”

 

Including Bruce Moser.

 

He doesn't know Dietz. But he said he stood behind her and watched it all unfold. “This was definitely a case of them ignoring the disability act and denying her access,” Moser said.

 

Dietz decided to stay and watch the concert from outside the venue and behind the gate. But, ultimately they left early.

In a statement to 7 Eyewitness News, Artpark said "Artpark is an ADA compliant venue and its staff are fully trained in its policies. In an effort to ensure that we continuously improve patron safety and experience, we are seriously reviewing this matter with our security team."

 

Dietz said she hopes they do. “I understand people have to look through it given what's going on in the world today. But, I can't leave it or put it in a clear plastic bag. That's embarrassing,” she said. 

 

Artpark said it intends to release another statement once it reviews what happened. 

 

Dietz said she won’t be going back to that venue again.