Black Lives Matter Arizona will protest outside an AMC movie theater for the “racial profiling, harassment, and mistreatment” of a man incorrectly accused of sneaking into a Captain Marvel screening.
On Friday night, Larry Shelton, 40, a mortgage banker in Ahwatukee, Ariz., was watching the movie at an AMC theater in Phoenix when he got up to use the restroom and re-fill his beverage. “I’m walking back to my seat with my cup when a manager runs up and said I entered the building through an exit door,” Shelton tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “He was very nasty with me and told me to leave.”
Shelton told the employee he was wrong and that he should verify his suspicion on a security camera. He continued to his seat and as he ate popcorn wearing his 3D glasses, a security guard told him to leave. Shelton refused, filming the argument for Facebook.
Shelton recorded another video in the theater lobby, where police officers were standing. “These guys said you didn’t have a ticket,” said an officer, indicating the manager who said, “Sir, you walked in an exit door and my staff warned me they did not sell you a ticket…I am sure. Nobody scanned your ticket.”
Shelton presented his movie ticket and the manager said, “Oh yes, this is a ticket that does look like it was purchased…but you should have shown me the ticket…you walked in [from] the exit door.”
“Do you know how embarrassing this is?” said Shelton. He asked for a refund and the manager said, “You’re not getting a refund. You violated our code of conduct by turning a flashlight on in the theater.”
Shelton tells Yahoo Lifestyle that showing his ticket to the manager would have ended the misunderstanding but he felt defensive. “The exit door I supposedly snuck into was too far from the theater I was sitting in — I would have had to teleport there by the time the manager stopped me.”
The Phoenix Police Department tells Yahoo Lifestyle that no laws were broken.
Sheldon sent an email to AMC alleging discrimination. The company response, a copy of which Shelton shared with Yahoo Lifestyle, partly read, “…We deeply regret the mistake in misidentifying you…”
An AMC corporate spokesperson tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “AMC deeply regrets that this avoidable situation occurred. Based on our initial investigation, including interviews with the theatre staff and our outreach to the guest, this situation could have been handled differently to minimize frustration, and we’ve offered our sincere apologies to Mr. Shelton. Regarding what transpired, a member of the theatre team, acting on information about unauthorized access to the theatre through an exit door, approached a guest in the area, who was reentering an auditorium mid-movie. When the guest declined to show his ticket stub, the manager called for security, and when the guest again declined to show his ticket stub or leave the auditorium, the theatre called the police. Once police arrived, the guest produced his ticket.”
“We understand that Mr. Shelton feels he was treated with bias,” said the spokesperson. “Equality is of the utmost importance to AMC, which is why unconscious bias training is required for all AMC management associates, and we will be reinforcing that training at this theatre.”
Shelton was offered free movie passes and popcorn and drink vouchers from the company. However, he is seeking legal counsel. “I felt very ashamed,” he says.
On Tuesday evening outside the theater, Black Lives Matter of Arizona will protest for Shelton, who will also join, alleging “racial profiling, harassment, and mistreatment.” Kat McKinney, president of Black Lives Matter tells Yahoo Lifestyle the manager’s actions were “appalling.”
“This employee tried to intimidate Larry, even when he was proved wrong,” McKinney tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Thankfully, we have videos to prove that racism continues to exist.” The organization asks for a national boycott of AMC Theaters. “An apology will not stop us,” says McKinney. “We can’t lose an opportunity for change.”
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