Police Presence Questioned at Md. Showing of "The Butler"

Maryland woman says she felt racially profiled when extra police officers were on hand for the showing of "Lee Daniels' The Butler"

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A Silver Spring woman claims that there was a heavy police presence at a showing of The Butler Saturday night. The woman believes it was racial profiling, but the theater says they provide extra security for all popular movies. News4's Darcy Spencer reports. (Published Monday, Aug 19, 2013)

    A Maryland woman says she felt racially profiled when extra police officers were on hand for the showing of "Lee Daniels' The Butler" at a downtown Silver Spring movie theater.

    Tiffany Flowers tweeted about her outrage, which is now gaining international attention.

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    Flowers tells News4 she saw the movie Saturday night at Regal's Majestic Theater, where three police officers were verifying tickets and escorting moviegoers in and out of the theater.

    She says she felt profiled by the added security because the crowd was predominantly African-American.

    "A lot of people feel that an overwhelmingly African-American audience getting three police officers to guard and manage our entrance and exit from the theater is very, very suspicious," she said. "So I'm hoping that they come up with an answer that we can all deal with...."

    Regal Cinemas released a statement on the matter that reads, "Regal Entertainment Group routinely employs security personnel to ensure the safety of all our guests and staff. When a theater experiences sold-out showings of any feature, security will assist with crowd control and guest assistance throughout the facility, including auditoriums."

    Flowers said she's never seen officers at the theater before. She's received a lot of support for her stance via social media, of which she said, "I think it's great. I think that Regal should be on high alert because it's really about how this makes them look and how they're being portrayed in the community."

    "Lee Daniels' The Butler" tells the story of a man (Forrest Whitaker) who worked at the White House during six presidential administrations. It was loosely based on the life of Eugene Allen, a Virginia man who worked in the White House for 34 years and was ultimately promoted to the highest rank, maître d'.

    The film -- which features an ensemble cast that also includes Oprah Winfrey, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Robin Williams -- premiered Friday and was the highest-grossing movie last weekend, bringing in $25 million.