One patron says she was confronted three times by three different members of the theater's staff, with accusations of having a fake ticket and cursing out AMC employees.
In a cultural statement too loud to be missed, an alleged incident of racial profiling led to the axing of three AMC employees at a screening of the new Harriet Tubman biopic starring Cynthia Erivo and Leslie Odom Jr.
According to the New Orleans Advocate, the November 3 incident saw the film interrupted mid-screening by an employee of AMC Clearview Palace in Metairie, Louisiana over an apparent seating mix-up. In attendance at this screening were 15 members of the non-profit group 504 Queens, an African-American women's empowerment group.
According to the women, three different employees of the theater questioned the veracity of their tickets and said they were cursing and being so loud they had to shut off the film to deal with it.
"I saw how people were looking at us," one of the women, 65-year-old Sandra Gordon, told 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."
Calling it an "unacceptable and unnecessary disruption," AMC Theaters' investigation into the incident. According to the report, a theater employee came up and questioned Gordon's seat. She showed him the digital copy of it on her phone, which matched where she was sitting.
But later, another employee shut down the movie and confronted Gordon, accusing her of cursing out the first employee. According to the paper, nearby patrons insisted that Gordon was polite with the first employee, while those further back started shouting that Gordon should be removed from the theater.
Finally, a third employee again came into the theater to verify Gordon's ticket, finding that she was still sitting in the right season. Afterward, the 504 Queens and several other theater patrons demanded to see the manager over the incident. While the manager issues refunds to all those who stayed, per Gordon's request, she claims there was never an apology.
Earlier this week, AMC's corporate investigation resulted in the firing of all three employees who confronted Gordon, according to New Orleans-based WDSU.
Speaking through legal counsel, the 504 Queens asked that AMC do the following:
- Offer free tickets to "Harriet" for all high school students in Jefferson and Orleans parishes.
- Donate profits from that theater's Black Friday sale to the 504 Queens non-profit to purchase holiday meals for people in need.
- Donate movie passes to 504 Queens so they can take girls in their mentor programs to the theater.
- Provide a written apology to 504 Queens.
- Provide mandatory anti-racism training for all AMC employees, as well as customer service training on protocol and policies.
- Review AMC policies regarding checking ticket stubs in theaters.
- Terminate the three employees involved in the incident.
AMC's legal response detailed how they agreed with each of these terms, including stating that they "believe termination is warranted under the circumstances" for the three employees who confronted Gordon.
The free screenings of "Harriet" for high school students in the two mentioned parishes occurred on Wednesday, November 20 and will again on Monday, November 25.
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