AMC Theaters has fired three New Orleans-area employees over the alleged racial profiling of a group of black women during a movie about key abolitionist figure Harriet Tubman.
More than a dozen members of the 504 Queens, a local African American women’s empowerment group, attended a Nov. 3 showing of “Harriet” at the AMC Clearview Palace 12 in Metairie, La.
Despite the fact that the women had reserved their tickets ahead of time, theater employees reportedly treated them suspiciously and were skeptical about whether they really had tickets or were in the right seats, local station WDSU reports.
Then the film abruptly stopped and a manager confronted them in the theater, with the rest of the moviegoers watching the exchange.
“We were watching people being whipped, being shot in the head, their children being sold away from them,” one of the women, Sandra Gordon, told NOLA.com. “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.”
A lawyer representing the nonprofit group mailed a letter about the incident to AMC on Nov. 7, with 15 members claiming they were discriminated against. The letter alleges that two workers and a kitchen staff member approached them during the film, WDSU reports.
The letter also claims that the women approached management about the issue, and officials offered them free tickets to a movie which the group didn’t accept.
The charity called on AMC to meet a list of actions, including giving free “Harriet” tickets to public and private high schoolers and providing mandatory anti-racism and anti-oppression training for all of its staff members.
AMC responded by complying with the group’s requests and apologizing for what happened.
“We apologize for the several missteps and misunderstandings on behalf of our management and film crew that evening, to the serious and justified disappointment of the women you represent,” wrote Kevin Connor, general counsel and senior vice president for AMC Theatres, according to NOLA.com.