Three employees were fired from a Louisiana AMC movie theater after being accused of racially profiling African American moviegoers during a screening of “Harriet.
The incident took place at the AMC Clearview Palace 12 in Metairie, Louisiana, on Nov. 3, during the opening weekend screening of the movie. Around halfway through the film, the projector reportedly stopped, and the lights were turned up as an employee entered to address a possible ticket mix-up with members of African American women’s nonprofit, 504 Queens, who were in attendance.
According to the Washington Post, the group had reportedly been seated in seats they purchased when another group walked in around 8:15 p.m. The second group allegedly saw the seats were occupied and left. A theater employee entered the theater shortly after and asked to check one of the women’s tickets.
65-year-old patron Sandra Gordon said the employee told her she was in the wrong seat, but she showed her e-ticket and the employee left. A few minutes later, a manager stopped the movie and confronted Gordon. The manager allegedly yelled at Gordon and accused her of cursing at the employee who had first checked her ticket.
“It was half and half,” Gordon said on the manager’s tone. “Part racial, part didn’t-know-what-to-do ignorance. But it didn’t even have to go to that level.”
However, the incident wasn’t over at that point. Shortly after the humiliating scene, a third employee came in the theater to check Gordon’s ticket again.
After the movie ended, Gordon and 14 other women from the 504 Queens organization reportedly demanded to speak with a manager to complain about their treatment. The manager then issued refunds to anyone else who complained about the incident.
AMC Theaters completed an internal investigation, which ended in the three employees involved being terminated.
“Based on our initial investigation, operational mistakes by the theater team led to this unacceptable and unnecessary disruption, and we are working with the theater to address what occurred,” AMC spokesman Ryan Noonan wrote in a statement. “We sincerely apologize to our guests in the theater for this disruption and for the frustration they experienced as a result of it.”