Rob Brown, a black actor best known for his role on the HBO series Treme, claims he was racially profiled at Macy's flagship store in Herald Square. Brown is now suing the store after police allegedly detained him for buying his mother a $1,350 Movado watch.
According to the lawsuit, police swarmed the 29-year-old Rob Brown while he was trying to also purchase a pair of $350 Prada sunglasses. He was then allegedly "paraded while handcuffed" through Macy's and into a jail cell at the store. Officers supposedly accused him of using false identification and questioned how he could afford an expensive item. He was held for about an hour before being released, though he was not charged with a crime.
"We are investigating the alleged claims, as we were just made aware of this lawsuit," Macy's said in a statement. "We do not comment on matters in litigation."
Rob Brown told the New York Post that this alleged racial profiling made him miss his mother's college graduation. "You can't let injustice roll like that," he said. "I'll never get that time back. My mother was walking across the stage looking for me."
The Treme actor is seeking unspecified monetary damages in this racial profiling lawsuit. However, his lawyer insisted to the Associated Press that this case is more about justice than cash.
"Why was I put in cuffs?" Rob Brown asked the New York Daily News. "Why was I even approached? It was a slap in the face."
Rob Brown said he decided to come forward with this racial profile lawsuit after hearing the story of Trayon Christian. The 19-year-old black teenager filed a case against Barneys in New York City on Monday, accusing employees at the high-end store of questioning him after he bought a $349 belt.
"He was brave," Brown said of Christian. "It's my duty to follow through."
Trayon Christian claimed that the workers called police, who stopped him outside of the store. Even though he showed them his ID, the cops still supposedly handcuffed him and took him to a the police station, where he was allegedly detained for two hours. Officials dispute this version of events, claiming he was only in custody for half that time.
"Mr. Christian was held in police custody for approximately 42 minutes and as soon as we determined that the card was authentic, he was immediately released," police spokeswoman Inspector Kim Royster said.
A third young black New Yorker, Kayla Phillips, has accused Barneys of racial profiling, as well. Phillips claimed officers questioned her after she spent $2,500 on a bag at the store. She also plans to file a lawsuit.