504 Queens

Sandra Gordon, seated, far left, with the 504 Queens. AMC Theatres recently signed a settlement offer with the group after three white Clearview Cinema employees mishandled a ticket mix-up, leaving the women feeling racially profiled. (Photo courtesy of 504 Queens)

No one goes to see a movie with the idea that an entertaining afternoon or evening out will be interrupted by insult. So it’s no surprise that the women who belong to 504 Queens were stunned when their group outing to see “Harriett” was interrupted at AMC Clearview Palace 12 in Metairie.

The women, who come together as a part of their African American empowerment group, say theater employees stopped the movie for all patrons, asking members of the group whether they had tickets to see the movie. What all happened next isn’t clear, but we know that 504 Queens group members felt humiliated and racially profiled by the way the theater employees handled them.

Apparently, someone questioned whether the 504 Queens were in the right seats. These days, many theaters have reserved seating. But dispatching a series of employees to look into the situation seems a bit odd. Group member Sandra Gordon says she was accused of being disrespectful. Brandon Mayo, anther patron who was at the showing but does not know the 504 Queens members, backs up Gordon, saying the employee was “all in that woman’s face.”

We’re sure no one at the screening of a popular movie about abolitionist Harriett Tubman appreciated what happened. Clearly, the theater management thought something went horribly wrong.

After Gordon and her group engaged attorney Alison McCrary, the AMC theater chain quickly conducted an internal investigation, provided a written apology, fired three employees and agreed to provide video training for employees at its 650 theaters. In addition, AMC will donate all movie ticket receipts from the Friday after Thanksgiving to the 504 Queens for the group’s holiday meals program.

One of the best results is that up to 20,000 high school students in Orleans and Jefferson parishes can get free tickets to see the movie.

We don’t like that this happened —  to anyone. Sometimes, there’s confusion at movie theaters about seating. Clearly there are better ways to handle such challenges. The 504 Queens purchased 14 designated seats to see the movie about an escaped enslaved women who led others to freedom on the Underground Railroad.

We appreciate how Gordon and her group dealt with this. Without such a direct, mature approach, we doubt that AMC would have agreed to their diplomatic demands. We're heartened that AMC quickly acknowledged its errors, took action and offered amends.

This is an opportunity from which we can learn, once again, that it’s best to treat others as we wish to be treated.