An Ahwatukee, Arizona man claims he was racially profiled by workers at an AMC theater Friday and he has video of the aftermath.
Larry Shelton’s videos of the incident went viral after he uploaded it to Facebook March 8. The 40-year-old mortgage banker was attending the 10:30 p.m. showing of “Captain Marvel” at AMC Ahwatukee 24 Friday, March 8. After leaving the theater to use the restroom and re-fill his beverage, Shelton was accused of sneaking into the theater through an exit door rather than paying to see the film.
“I’m at the movies,” Shelton says in the first video uploaded to his Facebook page after the incident. “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.”
A security guard told him he had to leave, to which Shelton continually asked, “why.” The unnamed guard said Shelton, who is filming in the darkened 3-D screening with his cellphone flashlight on, is “creating a disturbance.”
“Go check the cameras to see if I paid to get in here,” Shelton tells the guard.
A back and forth between the two continues for the duration of the video. In the end, a manager shows up.
A second video picks up with Shelton, the security guard and the manager in the theater lobby. By this time, two police officers have joined them after they arrived inside the theater and walked Shelton out into the lobby.
The manager maintains he was told Shelton snuck into the theater, which Shelton denies. He hands his ticket stub as proof he paid for his ticket. It appears his ticket stub was requested before as the manager says, “you should have shown me your ticket stub.”
Shelton was upset that it was “automatically assumed” he didn’t pay for the showing.
“Do you know how mad I am right now? Do you know how embarrassed this is?” Shelton says. “If somebody come up to you out the blue and said, ‘get outta here’ …”
Meanwhile, the guard was steadfast in the fact that Shelton should have presented his ticket.
One of the police officers explained the matter is a civil one and they cannot get involved.
“This is not a criminal matter,” the cop says.
As he began to leave, Shelton said he wanted a refund. The manager refused.
“You’re not getting a refund. You violated our code of conduct by turning a flashlight on in the theater,” he says.
Shelton ultimately obtained the manager’s card and sent an email to AMC corporate claiming he was discriminated against. The response, which he shared with Yahoo Lifestyle, read in part, “…We deeply regret the mistake in misidentifying you…”
Recounting the incident to the publication, Shelton admitted the misunderstanding would have been over if he showed the manager his ticket, 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,” he said.
AMC offered Shelton free movie passes and popcorn and drink vouchers, but he is looking into getting legal counsel.
“I felt very ashamed,” he said.
The viral videos have garnered lots of support since it was shared and many have commented in favor of Shelton.
“I’m sorry that happened to you bro. Shit makes me mad af know that the security could have defused it but what do you expect from house n*ggas”
“Should boycott the movie theater, Sue the movie theater”
In a statement regarding the incident, a spokesperson with AMC said in a statement, “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. 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.”
By Tuesday, March 12, Black Lives Matter Arizona held a protest near the AMC in question in favor of Shelton, who was in attendance. Once there, he told The Arizona Republic the video didn’t show the manager walking up to him as he went back inside the theater after he used the restroom and got a refill about an hour into the movie. He disputed the manager’s claim he asked to see a ticket stub. Shelton said he was immediately accused of sneaking into the theater.
“AMC needs to train their people like they want to be treated,” he told the local publication. “If you treat people like you want to be treated, this would have never happened. Now I have the shame of people who were in the theater, if they see me out, I’m going to be that guy who police took out of the theater, who snuck in there in their minds because they don’t know what really happened.”
Katt McKinney, a BLM activist, is calling for a boycott of all AMCs nationwide, not just the one in Ahwatukee, until “they address this.”
Racially profiled at AMC theatres in ahwatukee Arizona today…. Part 2
Posted by Larry Shelton on Saturday, March 9, 2019