Up to 20,000 high schoolers in New Orleans will see the new film Harriet for free after an incident in which a group of women say they were racially profiled at a local theater. NOLA reports more than a dozen members of the 504 Queens, a nonprofit for African American women, purchased assigned-seat tickets to a Nov. 3 screening of Harriet in Metairie. But after the lights went down, the trouble started. A theater employee confronted 65-year-old Sandra Gordon, telling her she was in the wrong seat and demanding to see her ticket. She showed proof she'd paid for her seat and the employee left—but minutes later the movie was paused and a second employee came to make the same accusation; a third worker went through the same routine with Gordon after the second one had left, and people in the audience started yelling, "Take her out of here." "It was humiliating," Gordon says. "It felt like the 1800s again in 2019."
In a letter to AMC cited by WDSU, a lawyer for 504 Queens says the women were offered free tickets but asked for their money back instead, saying they no longer wish to frequent that theater. That letter offered a bulleted list of what the charity thought AMC could do to right things, including offering free Harriet tickets to local high schoolers in two parishes, providing anti-racism training to all staff, and firing the three workers involved in the incident—and AMC has agreed to all of the requests. A rep for AMC says in a statement that "we apologize for the several missteps and misunderstandings ... to the serious and justified disappointment of the women" involved. The Washington Post notes this is the second recent allegation of racial discrimination at an AMC theater. "I just wonder: If I was a white lady, would all of this have occurred?" Gordon says, per NOLA. (Read more racial profiling stories.)