AMC theaters has fired three employees in Louisiana who allegedly engaged in racial profiling of a group of African American women during a screening of “Harriet,” a movie about abolitionist hero Harriet Tubman, according to NBC affiliate WDSU in New Orleans.
A letter to AMC from the lawyer for a group called 504 Queens, described by Nola.com as an African American women’s empowerment group, says 15 of its members of the group went to see the film at an AMC theater in Metairie on Nov. 7, WDSU reported.
Three theater employees, including a kitchen worker, repeatedly interrupted the screening to ask members of the group to verify their tickets and seating assignments, the letter said. At one point, one employee stopped the film and turned the lights on, causing other people at the screening to get upset and ask that the 504 Queens leave, WDSU reported.
“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,” one member of the women’s group told the outlet.
Another member of the group told Nola.com that one theater worker started yelling when she came to check their tickets.
The women spoke to management after the screening and were ultimately refunded the money for the tickets. In their letter, the group called on the company to fire the three employees and also outlined eight ways AMC could rectify the situation, including that it provide mandatory “anti-racism and anti-oppression training” for workers.
504 Queens also asked that AMC give free “Harriet” tickets to all public and private high school students in Orleans and Jefferson parishes, donate movie passes to the group’s 200 members so they can “take young girls in their mentor program to movies next year” and donate sales from Black Friday to the group. 504 Queens said the donated money would be used to provide meals during the holidays for people in need.
In a letter obtained by WDSU, AMC General Counsel and Senior Vice President Kevin Connor apologized to the group and said the company will honor all eight of the group’s suggestions. According to Connor, 504 Queens should expect to receive roughly $5,000 to $8,000 from Black Friday sales at the Metairie theater.
The letter said AMC will also implement “antiracism/unconscious bias training” at multiple theaters via a webinar and has “made plans to terminate” the employees involved. Earlier in the week, multiple AMC theaters in the area had free screenings of “Harriet” for Jefferson and Orleans parish high school students.