A disabled man who lost a leg to diabetes crawled up two flights of stairs at Philippi City Hall to protest the building’s lack of handicap access.Earlie Delaney of Anmoore told The Inter-Mountain that the lack of access violates his and his family’s 14th Amendment rights to equal protection under the law.
City Hall doesn’t have an elevator and a chair lift has been shut down for a year because it failed an inspection.On Tuesday, Delaney left his crutches at the bottom of the stairs, crawled up two flights, and the crawled down a hallway to attend a council meeting.
“I did that as a protest for the way they are treating handicapped people,” Delaney said after catching his breath. “I’ve talked to people about the (Americans with Disabilities Act), but there’s no teeth in the law, nothing to tell them they are in trouble.”
He said the protest was not for himself but for another disabled person.City Clerk Tammy Stemple says city officials would have made special accommodations if Delaney had notified them that he wanted to attend the meeting. She said meetings have been held in the past in a first-floor hallway or in a city gymnasium so that Delaney could attend.
“We have tried to accommodate him to the best of everyone’s ability,” Stemple said.Stemple said the chair lift, which she called a “dinosaur,” has been repaired and the city is waiting for the state to inspect it.
“We are sensitive to the needs of impaired citizens,” City Manager Karen Weaver said. “We have accommodated him in the past. We are working with the (U.S. Department of Agriculture) to do upgrades to City Hall, and those issues would be addressed at that time.”