The racial profiling struggle is becoming far too real here in New York City. We told you about 19-year-old Trayon Christian, who was arrested outside of Barneys on Madison Avenue after he purchased a pricey Salvatore Ferragamo belt on his debit card. Then there were claims by Kayla Phillips, 21, that she was approached by undercover officers after buying a $2, 500 Celine bag in the same store earlier in the year. But they’re not the only ones stepping forward to tell their stories, and it’s not just Barneys that allows these things to happen (which black folks already knew).
Actor Rob Brown, known for his work on the HBO show Treme and from movies like Finding Forrester, Coach Carter, and the recent release, Don Jon, says that he was arrested this summer by officers in Macys in Herald Square after purchasing a $1, 350 Movado watch as a graduation present for his mother. He says she had just finished at Metropolitan Community College and he decided to buy her the pricey watch to congratulate her, and was going to take it to her graduation that day. While he waited for the watch to be cleaned and packaged because he picked the last one, a display, he ran over to Sunglass Hut next door to pick up some shades. While making a purchase there, Brown says he was approached by officers out of uniform who arrested him and accused him of using a fake card to buy the watch in Macy’s. Brown says he was handcuffed and walked into a holding area for shoplifters inside of Macy’s on an upstairs level.
“They kept telling me, ‘Your card is fake. You’re going to jail,” Brown said in an interview with the New York Daily News. He also said that officers gave him different reasons for why he was being detained and questioned, despite having multiple forms of ID on him. One explanation from cops was that a suspicious employee called police; then there was the excuse that police were in the store doing a sting operation to find a “crooked clerk.” Either way, Brown and his lawyer, John Elefterakis, say that after 45 minutes and checking through the actor’s bags, police realized they made a mistake and let him go. Though he was late because of the incident, Brown says he was able to make it to his mother’s graduation (police gave him a ride), but that didn’t stop him from sharing his distaste over the incident on Twitter soon after back in June:
“Got arrested at Macy’s while buying my ma a watch. Thought my card was fake cuffed me and tossed me in a cell. Then they realized they were d**ks.
Then the police drove me to my ma’s graduation. Trbl jb #NPYD
Careful [black] ppl. If you drop $1000 at @Macys #NYPD might lock you up for grand larceny BEFORE they ask you for ID. #stillappalled #kinda
Don’t be black while shopping @Macy’s Police might roll on u
A spokesperson for Macy’s issued a statement to say, “We are investigating the alleged claims, as we were just made aware of this lawsuit. We do not comment on matters in litigation.” But Sunday night they claimed that their employees had nothing to do with Brown being accused of fraud, but that it was an operation and decision made by the New York Police Department only.
When asked why Brown decided to come forward months later to share his story and sue, the actor says he was inspired by Trayon Christian’s ordeal at Barneys.
“He was brave. It’s my duty to follow through.”
Click to the next page to watch Brown’s full interview with Pix 11 about the incident at Macy’s and let us know what you think.