SPARTA, NJ – Sparta police were called to the New Vision Sparta Theater on Sunday night after a drunken woman and her boyfriend interrupted a screening of the movie “Black Panther” by shouting racial slurs, according to a witness and police.
Former New Jersey Assembly candidate Michael Grace was in the theater when two people started yelling racial slurs including “look at these ‘n-word’” and “can you believe these ‘n-word’.” The shouting came “about two thirds of the way through the movie,” according to Grace.
The theater showing the popular box-office draw was “full with no empty seats,” Grace said. When they started shouting others in the theater told them to be quiet, he said, and when they would not stop their shouting, people in the audience stood to confront them.
Grace said his wife left the theater to alert the manager who, in turn, called the police.
Police came and shut down the movie, according to Grace.
According to Sparta Lt. John Lamon, the officers arrived shortly after getting the call at 8:30 p.m. An “extremely intoxicated 57-year-old woman and her boyfriend,” were asked to leave, he said.
“It was heartening to see, most of the theater clapped” when the offenders left, according to Grace.
“The police diffused the situation in a well-ordered manner,” Grace said. He said they “could not have done a better job.” He was equally complimentary of the theater management who “handled everything well” and issued vouchers for them to return another night.
Police felt in light of the disturbance it would be in everyone’s best interest if the movie was not restarted at that time, Lamon said.
“It is important that we call this out for what it is,” Grace said. “It was good to see that young people in the audience stood up to this. This language and behavior is not acceptable in this town, this county, and this world.”