This sort of thing has been going on for decades but it looks like the floodgates of racial profiling cases have been opened thanks to the two high-profile stories of Trayon Christian and Kayla Phillips that have recently caught the media’s attention. Rob Brown, star of the HBO show “Treme” and the movie “Finding Forrester” says he was “paraded” through Macy’s Herald Square in handcuffs and detained for an hour after being racially profiled and accused of using a fake card to buy his mother a $1,350 watch.
“The Express” star’s allegations against Macy’s come days after the Daily News revealed another high-end retailer, Barneys, was rocked by complaints it had racially profiled two black shoppers for credit card fraud when they made pricey purchases at the snooty store.
“Why was I put in cuffs? Why was I even approached?” Brown, 29, asked at his attorney’s office Friday night. “It was a slap in the face.”
The actor, who also starred in “Don Jon,” was even more irate immediately after the June 8 incident, tweeting, “Don’t be black while shopping at #Macy’s Police might roll on u.”
A spokesperson for Macy’s said in a statement, “We are investigating the alleged claims, as we were just made aware of this lawsuit. We do not comment on matters in litigation.”
Brown said he was inspired to step forward by Trayon Christian, the 19-year-old who The News first reported filed suit against Barneys on Monday.
“He was brave,” Brown, 29, said. “It’s my duty to follow through.”
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Brown, who made his movie debut starring opposite Sean Connery in 2000’s “Finding Forrester,” says he’d been shopping at Macy’s flagship store because he wanted to buy a graduation present for his mother, Myra, who received a degree from Metropolitan Community College.
He settled on a $1,350 silver Movado watch with gold trim. Brown said he purchased the last one, the display model, and strolled over to a Sunglass Hut in the store while he was waiting for it to be cleaned.
He said he saw some $350 Prada shades he liked and was also going to buy those — but while he was waiting for them to be tightened, he was suddenly swarmed by “at least three” plainclothes officers.
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The Brooklyn-raised actor said he thought he was being robbed. He said he told the officers he wanted to see their ID, and the next thing he knew he was in handcuffs.
The suit says he was then “paraded” through the store like a criminal as the officers led him to a holding cell upstairs.
“They kept telling me, ‘Your card is fake. You’re going to jail,’” Brown said.
He said he “implored” them to check his ID — and a Macy’s employee did, going through the several pieces of identification he had on him one at a time.
“I had all sorts of forms of ID,” Brown said, but the officers maintained his card was “fake.”
The officers told him the ID “was false and that he could not afford to make such an expensive purchase,” the suit says.
Brown starring in his first movie alongside Sean Connery in the movie “Finding Forrester”
Brown, who graduated from Amherst College in 2008, said he was fighting to keep his cool because he was worried he’d miss his mom’s ceremony.
He said the officers gave him different explanations for why he’d been stopped. One said they’d been called by a suspicious Macy’s employee, while another said they’d been doing a sting operation in the store looking for a crooked clerk.
It’s not the first time Macy’s has come under fire for its stores’ private policing practices. In 2005, after an investigation by then-state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, the retailer paid $600,000 to settle a complaint that its New York department stores profiled customers based on race, and handcuffed and detained those suspected of shoplifting.
Company officials had promised to appoint an internal security monitor and train their employees not to discriminate against patrons.
Brown’s lawyer, John Elefterakis, said the store and the cops realized they’d “made a very bad mistake and an inexcusable one” while going through his bags.
He was released after being in cuffs for about 45 minutes without any charges.
One of the officers drove Brown, who also starred in “Coach Carter,” to the graduation ceremony — but he was late anyway.
“To be late for my mother’s graduation ceremony — that was devastating,” Brown said.
Later that day, Brown, who goes by the Twitter user name Broccoli Rob, tweeted, “Got arrested while buying my ma a watch. Thought my card was fake cuffed me and tossed me in a cell. Then realized they were d—s.”
Then, he tweeted, “the police drove me to my ma’s graduation.”
But he was still fuming the next day, posting a tweet with the hashtags “#stillappalled #kinda.”
His suit accuses Macy’s and the NYPD of making the allegations against the Poly Prep grad “based on (his) race and age as he was a young black American male.” It charges Macy’s with racial profiling, and the NYPD with violating Brown’s constitutional rights.
The suit seeks unspecified monetary damages, but Brown’s lawyer, Elefterakis, said, “This is about justice, not about money.” – Via DailyNews