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EVERYONE AT THE TABLE—Brother Victor Muhammad and V. Fawn Walker-Montgomery of Take Action Mon Valley share a moment with Phoenix Theatres Entertainment President and CEO Phil Zacheretti. A Community Day was held, July 26, to signify an appreciation for African Americans, many of whom frequent the North Versailles entertainment complex. (Photo by Diane I. Daniels)

Nearly five months after a disturbance outside Phoenix Theatres North Versailles Stadium 18, which resulted in an arrest of an adult female and the dismissal of a theatre manager, officials of Take Action Mon Valley (TAMV) and the entertainment complex ownership and management have unified to address issues of diversity and reform at the theatre.

“This was a great example of two sides engaging, empathizing and moving forward in a positive direction,” said V. Fawn Walker-Montgomery.

At a July 26 Community Day event held at the complex, TAMV co-founder and lead organizer, Walker-Montgomery, and member Brother Victor Muhammad, along with Phoenix Theatres Entertainment President and CEO Phil Zacheretti, outlined expectations of patrons and staff going forward. Brother Muhammad said the Phoenix Theatre’s goal is to provide a clean, safe environment where the community can view a movie and take part in the entertainment center’s other amenities. On the other hand, he explained to the many youth in attendance that they have a responsibility to act appropriately when supervised or unsupervised.

In March, youth had congregated outside of the entertainment complex after they were asked to leave the facility by staff members, according to a police report. During the ordeal, Melanie Carter, a Black adult female, began shooting video of the confrontation between the youth and entertainment complex staff with her cellphone, but later was confronted by the staff and police and was arrested.

Zacheretti, introducing other corporate officials and local management in attendance, acknowledged that the business is a family-based company and community business that’s an entertainment center for families. A place to come and escape. “We want everyone that enters this establishment to be safe, secure and to know that you are welcome.”

Understanding that the majority of their customers are children and teenagers, oftentimes unaccompanied by an adult, he said the basic expectation of management is respect towards all customers and employees and for patrons to have a good time and use common sense.

Their policy and procedures for misconduct, agreed upon by both entities, is for a member of the theatre staff to approach the person and request that the action be stopped while explaining why. If the behavior continues, the person may be asked to leave the building with ticket money being refunded. The last resort would be to get security involved.

Walker-Montgomery said because of the phone calls made to the corporate office after the incident, it’s great that everyone was able to come together and resolve the bad vibes. Outcomes include Phoenix having limited hours of their security (police), adding a diversity clause to their manual, and having communicated as well as exhibiting the desire to hire youth from the community.

The Community Day consisted of participants receiving an update of the situation, a free movie, refreshments and gift cards.

Walker-Montgomery expressed her thanks to Brother Muhammad for his collaboration and for reaffirming the need to move in and out of battle mode when advocating. “Great things happen when people come together and see each other’s point of view,” she said.

A grassroots group, TAMV’s mission and purpose is to combat the effects of community violence in the Mon Valley and surrounding communities through community organizing and activism. TAMV’s plan of action is to raise awareness about the spiraling effects of community violence and to hold community stakeholders accountable through activism and instill hope back into the community by supporting youth, parents, school officials, local governments, police, faith-based organizations, community groups and social service agencies.

TAMV was founded in 2014 and operates under the umbrella of Take Action Consulting, a community, political and organizational consulting business of Walker-Montgomery. TAMV often collaborates with other organizations to demand reform within the criminal justice and police systems.

Walker-Montgomery and Brother Muhammad, a student minister of Muhammad Mosque 22 in Wilkinsburg, encourages people to apply for positions at the complex. Anyone age 16 and older can apply online or in person, at 1701 Lincoln Hwy.

 

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