AMC Theatres are trying to make amends after a group of Black women claimed they were racially profiled by its employees during a recent showing of Harriet in Metairie, La., earlier this month.
According to New Orleans station WDSU, members of the 504 Queens, which is an African-American women’s empowerment group and nonprofit, allege that during a Nov. 3 outing to see the film, two employees and a kitchen staffer confronted them about a mix-up with their tickets.
An attorney employed by the nonprofit sent AMC a letter describing how workers humiliated the women while questioning them about the validity of one of their group tickets. The letter says staffers continued to harass them even after the woman in question, identified as Sandra Gordon, showed proof that her ticket was real and that she was in the correct seat. A kitchen staffer eventually stopped the film mid-showing and turned on all the lights and moviegoers demanded Gordon leave.
“You mean to tell me a kitchen employee can stop a movie, and also, turn on all the lights to embarrass me?” Gordon asked. “And to be aggressive with me in that manner? It was like the 1800s coming back to my face in 2019.”
The group stood their ground and stayed behind after film to complain to management, who promised full refunds of their tickets. But in their letter, the group laid out a more comprehensive list of demands for the theater chain to assure this doesn’t happen again.
In response to the backlash Leawood, Kansas-based AMC Theatres has fired the workers involved and donate as many 20,000 free tickets for high school students in surrounding areas to see Harriet, according to NOLA.com. The company has also said it will create a training video for employees at its 650 nationwide theaters along with donating ticket sales from the upcoming black Friday showings and concessions to the 504 Queens for its holiday meals program.
“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,” said Kevin Connor, general counsel and senior vice president for AMC Theatres in a statement.