Racism allegations are swirling on social media following a police presence at a weekend screening of "The Butler" that one Twitter-savvy patron found offensive and publicized.
DC-area tweeter Tiffany Flowersexpressed her outrage after noticing the many officers present at a Silver Spring, Md. theater during a screening of "The Butler."
"I'd like to take this time to express my utter disgust with @RegalMovies cinema in Silver Spring, MD. You all should stay away from here," she posted. That message was followed up with several other posts giving details:
"Tickets were double validated. First they get torn then upon entering the theater (10 FT. AWAY) we were asked for stubs again...Then as soon as we enter the theater we were greeted by an actual police officer who herded traffic in one direction...Once we get around the corner and start looking for seats we see yet another police office inside the theater facing patrons...The almost entirely black audience of #TheButler was subjected to watching the film while armed guards faced the audience. Why?"
Flowers' posts resulted in a surge of fellow tweeters' outraged responses. Her Twitter feed indicates she has been fielding many media inquiries since the incident, which has generated coverage in numerous outlets.
"What @RegalMovies didn't know is that @hanson_alan & I are professional organizers," Flowers posted, referring to the friend who had accompanied her to the movie. "This won't end well."
A Regal Movies spokesperson provided this statement to the Huffington Post:
"Regal Entertainment Group routinely employs security personnel to ensure the safety all of our guests and staff. When a theatre experiences sold out showings of any feature, security will assist with crowd control and guest assistance throughout the facility, including auditoriums.
This weekend our Majestic theatre experienced a tremendous guest response to the feature "Lee Daniels' The Butler" such that additional showtimes were added to meet our guests' demands.
At no time did local management receive any guest complaints or concerns about our security or staff, who worked diligently to meet all of our guests' needs.
To the extent any guests were disappointed with their experience, we welcome the opportunity to address their concerns and provide them the best entertainment experience possible in their future visits to our theatres."
The AP reported that the movie, starring Forest Whitaker as a longtime White House butler and Oprah Winfrey as his boozy wife, ruled the weekend box office, bringing in $25 million.