'Treme' Star Says He Was Targeted Because He Is Black, Files Lawsuit

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — An actor on a popular HBO series who says he was stopped buying sunglasses because of his race at a Macy’s department store in the city has filed a lawsuit against the company.

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A suit filed by Robert Brown in state Supreme Court in Manhattan on Friday alleges the actor was stopped by police at the 34th Street location after employees there contacted authorities about possible credit card fraud. He said he was held at the store, handcuffed and searched before being released.

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It was the third time inside of a week that practices at a high-end store have raised concerns, CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported. Brown’s lawsuit comes after two other black shoppers alleged similar claims against Barneys New York.

Brown said he was targeted because he’s black. He has appeared on the silver screen in “Finding Forrester” alongside Sean Connery and currently stars on the hit HBO series “Treme.”

The actor opened up about racial profiling that he says he was subjected to inside of the iconic Macy’s location.

“You can’t let injustice roll. It’s your duty to do something about it or the next person is going to walk into that same trap,” he said.

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Brown said that he was buying his mother a $1,300 watch as a graduation present in June when he was surrounded by undercover cops.

“All I kept hearing was, ‘it’s a fake card, you’re going to jail,'” Brown said.

He told CBS 2’s Schneider that authorities insisted he was using a fraudulent card. He said that he tried to show identification but was handcuffed and locked in a cell at Macy’s for nearly an hour.

“There’s still no explanation aside from race that speaks to how he was treated from the moment he was approached and placed in cuffs until the time he was placed in a jail cell, sitting there, with many forms of identification in his bag,” attorney John Elefterakis said.

Macy’s said in a statement it’s investigating the claim. The NYPD is also named in the suit. The city’s Law Department had no immediate comment.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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