Three employees were fired from a Louisiana AMC movie theater after being accused of racial profiling by African American moviegoers during a screening of “Harriet.”
The incident unfolded at the AMC Clearview Palace 12 in Metairie, Louisiana, on Nov. 3 at an opening weekend screening of “Harriet.” Around halfway through the film, the film reportedly stopped and the lights turned up as an employee entered to address a possible ticket mix-up with members of African American women’s nonprofit, 504 Queens, in attendance.
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.
One of the women, identified as Sandra Gordon, 65, told NOLA.com the employee had said she was “in the wrong seat.” She then showed her e-ticket to the employee who left as the movie continued. However, a kitchen manager reportedly had the movie stopped, entered the theater, and confronted Gordon. The manager allegedly yelled at Gordon and accused her of cursing at the employee who had 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.”
The two employees left and the movie continued before a third employee reportedly entered the theater to ask about the incident. He allegedly asked to see Gordon’s ticket as well before leaving.
After the film, Gordon and 14 other women from the 504 Queens reportedly demanded to speak with a manager to complain about their treatment. He also issued refunds to anyone else who complained about the incident.
The alleged incident sparked an internal investigation by AMC Theaters, which ended in the three employees being fired.
“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.”