Black theatergoers were racially profiled at a Louisiana AMC movie theater during a screening of Harriet.
According to Variety and WDSU 6 News, 15 members of a Black women’s nonprofit organization, 504 Queens, were profiled during a Nov. 7 viewing of the film at AMC Clearview Palace 12 in Metairie. The group’s lawyer claimed in a letter that the screening was disturbed at various points during the screening by three different employees, including a kitchen staff member. The women were requested “to confirm their ticket purchases and seating assignments.”
The lawyer’s letter goes on to say that one of the employees stopped the film and turned the lights on, “prompting other people attending the movie to demand one of the 504 Queens members exit the screening.”
One group member said to WDSU, “You mean to tell me a kitchen employee can stop a movie, and also, turn on all the lights to embarrass me? And to be aggressive with me in that manner? It was like the 1800s coming back to my face in 2019.”
Group members went to the theater’s management to describe what took place, and according to the lawyer’s letter, management offered the women free tickets to a film. However, the theater ended up refunding the group’s money after they said they no longer wanted to watch films at that theater location because of what they experienced.
Instead, the group asked that AMC address the situation with several actions, which AMC has agreed to. These actions include providing free Harriet tickets to public and private high school students in Orleans and Jefferson parishes and donating the theater’s Black Friday proceeds to 504 Queens, where the funds will be used to buy holiday meals for those in need. Other actions include providing mandatory anti-racism and anti-oppression training for all AMC theater staff, donating movie passes to 504 Queen’s 200 members of the organization’s mentorship program, releasing a written apology, providing mandatory customer service training to AMC theater staff and firing the employees responsible for the incident.
AMC has since fired the employees at fault and is offering free Harriet showings to high school students in Orleans and Jefferson parishes at AMC theater locations in Clearview, Elmwood and Westbank from Nov. 20 and Nov. 25.
AMC General Counsel and Senior Vice President Kevin Connor addressed the list, calling the terms 504 Queens requested “healing actions.”
“We look forward to you socializing these offerings with 504 Queens and getting back to us with a response,” he wrote. “We hope these arrangements will allow 504 Queens some peace in their hearts over the incident.”
Photo credit: Greg Wilson/Focus Features
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