Over twenty years ago, Hollywood actress and author Jewel Shepard told me the story of the day Oscar winning actor Forest Whitaker climbed on her roof of her Santa Monica home to fix her TV antenna and within minutes an LAPD helicopter and SWAT team converged on her home mistaking the acclaimed actor for a burglar.
Well, history has a way of repeating itself and unfortunately for Mr Whitaker just being black in America has again made him the victim of mistaken identity and falsely accused of a crime he did not commit.
On Friday, in an upscale New York City neighborhood, the “Crying Game” star was accused of shoplifting and patted down around lunchtime by an overzealous employee at the Milano Market, according to Whitaker’s publicist. The encounter was confirmed by a store employee.
“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.”
The Daily News reported that the Columbia University-area gourmet market is frequented by many famous celebrities, such as Tobey McGuire and Sarah Jessica Parker.
Still, Whittaker’s representative said the star was troubled by the incident.
“This was an upsetting incident given the fact that Forest did nothing more than walk into the deli,” said his publicist, Jennifer Plante.
“What is most unfortunate about this situation is the inappropriate way store employees are treating patrons of their establishment.”