AMC Theatres is doing damage control after a group of Black women allege they were racially profiledby staffers during a recent showing of “Harriet” in the New Orleans suburb of Metairie, Louisiana, earlier this month.
Three employees have been fired as a result of the incident, and the theater chain is continuing to make amends.
Members of the 504 Queens, an African-American women’s empowerment group and nonprofit, claim they were humiliated during a Nov. 3 trip to see the critically acclaimed film. Their outing was ruined when two employees and a kitchen staffer confronted the women about an apparent mix-up with their tickets.
In a letter to AMC, an attorney for the nonprofit described how workers questioned the validity of one of the women’s tickets several times, even after she proved her ticket was real and that she was in the correct seat.
Sandra Gordon, a member of the 504 Queens, said she thought the issue had been resolved. But she would be interrupted twice more by employees who accused her of being rude to a worker who came to check her ticket earlier.
The situation only escalated from there, and at one point, a kitchen staffer stopped the film mid-showing and turned on all the lights. The interruption drew the ire of other moviegoers, some of whom demanded that one of the group members leave.
“You mean to tell me a kitchen employee can stop a movie, and also, turn on all the lights to embarrass me?” Gordon told local station WDSU. “And to be aggressive with me in that manner? It was like the 1800s coming back to my face in 2019.”
The group stayed behind after film to voice their complaints to management, who hoped to remedy the situation by promising full refunds of their tickets. That did little to appease the women, who in their letter laid out a list of demands for the theater chain.
AMC Theatres responded to their requests in a letter of its own, promising to fire the workers involved and donate as many 20,000 free tickets for high school students in Orleans and Jefferson parishes to see the “Harriet” film.
Additionally, the theater chain said it would issue a written apology for the incident, provide mandatory implicit bias training for employees, as well as donate profits from its black Friday ticket and concession sales to the 504 Queens for its holiday meals program.