Man claims he was racially profiled at movie theater showing ‘Captain Marvel’March 14, 2019
A black moviegoer claims he was racially profiled at a theater in Phoenix after being asked to show his ticket more than an hour into a showing of “Captain Marvel,” video shows.
Larry Shelton posted two four-minute videos of his experience at the AMC Ahwatukee 24 late Saturday as the incident unfolded, showing himself in a darkened theater with a security guard standing beside him who repeatedly asked him to leave the premises.
“I’m at the movies,” Shelton said. “I paid to get in here and one of the people out of the blue said I did not pay and did not have a ticket. Now I’m taping everything.”
The security guard then told Shelton that he needed to leave the theater and asked him several times to turn off the light on his cellphone. Shelton then insisted that the managers at the theater could check security footage to confirm that he had, in fact, paid for his admission, video shows.
“So how you just gonna pick me out and say I didn’t have my ticket?” Shelton continued, adding that he just returned from the bathroom and had refilled his soft drink. “This is very disrespectful to me and everybody else in here.”
Shelton claimed the allegations came “out of nowhere” before indicating that he intended to wait for police to respond.
The second part of footage then shows Shelton exiting the theater with police officers and security guards as the manager looked on. The manager then told Shelton that another staffer reported seeing him enter the theater via an exit door, video shows.
“Sir, you walked in the exit door and my staff warned me that they did not sell you a ticket, that you didn’t get your ticket scanned by anybody,” the manager told Shelton. “Yes, that’s what I’m saying.”
Shelton then put his cellphone on the ground before producing his ticket and then demanding to see the manager’s supervisor.
“Now what’s that ticket say on there, sir?” Shelton asked the manager, who is white. “What does it say?”
Shelton accused the manager of “automatically” assuming that he snuck into the theater. The unidentified manager, in turn, continued to insist that another employee saw him enter without paying before asking him to leave the theater as cops told Shelton they couldn’t get involved in the civil matter, video shows.
“I will give you a card, but we’re gonna have to ask you to leave,” the manager told Shelton. “We’re not letting you stay.”
A security guard standing nearby then told Shelton that the entire incident could’ve been avoided had he simply produced his ticket.
“Shut up,” Shelton said before asking on his way out for a refund, which was denied because he turned on his cellphone flashlight inside the theater while recording the initial commotion, according to the manager.
A message seeking comment from AMC reps was not immediately returned, but employees at the theater will receive additional bias training in the aftermath of the incident, according to a statement obtained by the Arizona Republic.
“AMC deeply regrets that this avoidable situation occurred,” the statement read. “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.”
The manager called for security once Shelton declined to show his ticket and then called cops once he refused a second time to show a ticket or to leave the auditorium, according to AMC’s version of events.
“Once police arrived, the guest produced his ticket,” the statement continued. “We understand that Mr. Shelton feels he was treated with bias. 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, meanwhile, could not be reached for comment Thursday, but he told the newspaper that AMC also sent him an email apologizing for the incident, as well as a voucher for a free movie, popcorn and soda.
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