Forest WhitakerI’m pretty sure Forest Whitaker had no idea his trip to a NYC deli would turn into a disaster. According to his publicist, Jennifer Plante, Whitaker was falsely accused of shoplifting and then frisked at the Milano Market on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The unnamed employee wouldn’t allow Whitaker to leave the store and frisked him in front of the other customers.

“This was an upsetting incident given the fact that Forest did nothing more than walk into a deli,” Plante said in a statement to The New York Daily News. “What is most unfortunate about this situation is the inappropriate way store employees are treating patrons of their establishment. Frisking individuals without proof/evidence is a violation of rights.”

I suppose stop and frisk is more than a NYPD thing.

Another employee of the deli confirmed the incident. “It was around lunchtime and the store was packed,” said a Milano employee who refused to give his name. “We were like 50 people deep. The person walked in and out really quickly so our person just made a mistake. The employee apologized immediately. It was an honest mistake. I’ve been here 14 years and nothing like this has ever happened.”

Although the employee later apologized, Plante stated that Whitaker was still upset about the incident. “This was an upsetting incident given the fact that Forest did nothing more than walk into the deli”. As upsetting as Whitaker was, he didn’t file a complaint with the NYPD because he feared the employee would lose his job. “Forest asked that, in the future, the store change their behavior and treat the public in a fair and just manner,” added his publicist.

Whitaker is currently in New York City filming the movie Black Nativity, with Angela Bassett.

If you were in Whitaker’s shoes, what would you have done?

  • Anthony

    If Forest Whitaker has let it go, I don’t see a point in dwelling on the incident myself.

  • HoneyDew

    Forest Whitaker is such a gentleman. That employee and deli are lucky that happened to him and not anyone else, because if it had been me, I would sue. What happened at this deli is definitely a civil rights violation and I am quite sure this is not the first time, even though the employees said otherwise. What they meant was this is the first time something like this has happened… to an Oscar winner and as a result we were caught red handed violating peoples basic civil rights because we are blatantly racist.

  • Eyes Wide Shut

    Let’s keep it real…….

    I am a born and bred New Yorker. Most of the deli’s in “the city” are owned and operated by Asians, Arabs,Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, etc. They have little to no disregard for their black patrons. And as such, I am not surprised that this happened. Most of the people who own these delis more than likely have never seen a movie with Forest Whitaker STARRING (notice the caps). With exception of the younger generation ones, the older ones will treat any black man like crap. Shooooo, I wouldn’t be surprised if they treat Obama like garbage should he feel the need to spend money in their establishment………

    Most likely scenario: one of the younger employees in the store most likely recognized him or googled him when Forest became upset and then had a “whoops, i crapped my pants” moment. This reminds me of the time when Samuel Jackson complained on national TV about NYC cabbies passing him by on 5th Avenue 100% of the time…….

    Eyes Wide Shut

  • Mademoiselle

    So a non-LEO violates an individual’s privacy, and this is just an honest mistake? I remember when I worked retail as a teenager, we were instructed that it’s prohibited for any associate to so much as search someone’s bulging bag, let alone frisk a person, and that our only recourse was to alert security so they could apprehend the person because just as easily, that “suspect” could flip the script and claim you stole something from them while you perused their personal affects (or worse, got extra friendly with that frisk). This deli is lucky charges weren’t brought.

  • http://tontonmichel.tumblr.com Tonton Michel

    I disagree with Forest letting this ride is an invitation to repeat this behavior with someone else.

  • MommieDearest

    Forrest is a better person than I am.

  • http://www.myblackfriendsays.com myblackfriendsays

    The next time this happens, I am pretty sure the next person won’t be so forgiving.

    Was this employee trained to do this? If so, this deli needs a major overhaul. And if he wasn’t trained to behave this way, he needs to be seriously reprimanded or fired.

  • cupcakes and shiraz

    These foreigners always pull that crap on black people in NYC stores. They need to go back to where they come from.

  • Wong Chia Chi

    They are the first one’s to complain about discrimination too.

  • Anthony

    By no means am I suggesting that this is not classic racist abuse. I am just saying that the man with the most power to make the racist uncomfortable has punted. The most the rest of us can do is not patronize this deli.

  • L.W.

    Is there a website or tumblr or something putting together all the times famous black people have been disrespected like this? Because I’ve been reading these kind of stories all my life and I’m not a kid.

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    This! Sorry but sometimes you have to show people better than you can teach them so I would have filed a compliment quick fast and in a hurry. He can apologize but he and his store would also be held responsible for their actions.

  • Echi

    I think Whitaker realized that he out-classes this deli employee like a hundred to one and therefore decided to allow the person earn enough to stay alive while he, Whitaker, is well off. But like others, my issue is that it sends the message that this kind of behavior is okay – as in not a punishable offence. This does a disservice to other less well-off minorities.

  • Jame (@jameane)

    Dumb question time. What on earth could anyone steal at a deli that would warrant a frisk?

  • b

    Is the ham and turkey $1000 there?! What can you steal from a deli? A bag of chips?! They wouldn’t allow him to leave the store, frisked him and attempted to press charges for shoplifting… shoplifting what?! A tuna sandwich! Workers at the deli are getting brave and big-headed over some cold cuts.

  • http://trueletterson.wordpress.com trueletterson

    We only heard about this because Forest Whitaker is a celebrity who happen to look just like any regular everyday hard working black man, now we heard about this one just think how many average hard working black man who go thru this type treatment everyday, me personally I don’t think I would have let the store employee stop and frisk me I would have stayed there and call the police before I let him frisk me!

  • missy@

    I’ve been in Milano Market tons of times. Really sad to read this. Not that it matters but it’s really not a “deli” as much as it is a specialty store it’s near Columbia University and it’s packed with hard to find food items. I usually buy items from here. I sometimes get a salad but they’re overpriced and I’d rather make my own. Don’t get me wrong it has a Deli section, but they they also have a “butcher” like section, a cheese section, it’s pretty nice in there. Sad to hear this and won’t be shopping there for a while. I mean that’s crazy. I have a lot more respect for Mr. Whitacker for taking the high rode. I hope this person knows his job was saved, because Forest didn’t let the experience take him there.

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