A Louisiana AMC Theaters fired three employees after they allegedly racially profiled a group of Black women on Nov. 3 during a screening of “Harriet.”
Midway through the film, the workers stopped the movie to question the group’s tickets as other moviegoers watched, according to The Washington Post.
The group of 15 women were members of 504 Queens, a local African-American women’s empowerment group, and had bought their tickets in advance.
A few people walked in and noticed their seats were occupied before alerting an employee, reported the Daily Mail. After the women showed their verified tickets, two other employees came to double check.
The movie was paused for about seven minutes to deal with the situation. The women complained to a manager and were given a refund, but not an apology, Daily Mail reports.
“I saw how people were looking at us,” said Sandra Gordon, one of the women confronted by employees, reported Nola.com. “It was humiliating. Especially with the movie being shown. We were watching people being whipped, being shot in the head, their children being sold away from them. And then you shut down this movie, this emotional movie, and come to me about a ticket dispute? It felt like the 1800s again in 2019.”
The group’s lawyer, Alison McCrary, sent a letter to AMC headquarters on behalf of 504 Queens following the incident. According to WDSU News, the letter listed the following eight demands:
Give free "Harriet" tickets to all public and private high school students in Orleans and Jefferson parishes to educate them about the life and legacy of Harriet Tubman
Donate all profits from AMC Clearview Theatre's Black Friday sale to the nonprofit 504 Queens. Those funds would be used to purchase holiday meals for people in need.
Provide mandatory anti-racism and anti-oppression training for all AMC theater staff
Issue a written apology to the charity about the incident.
Donate movie passes to 504 Queens for its 200 members to take young girls in their mentor program to movies next year
Investigate and reevaluate AMC's practices, policies, training and supervision around checking ticket stubs in theaters.
Provide mandatory customer service training to AMC theater staff about protocol and policies.
Terminate the theater employees involved in the incident.
This week, AMC Theaters investigated the situation and Kevin Connor, AMC's general counsel and senior vice president, agreed to all eight requests, including firing the employees involved, calling them “healing actions.”
“We apologize for the several missteps and misunderstandings on behalf of our management and film crew that evening, to the serious and justified disappointment of the women you represent,” said Conner, Nola.com reports.