'Treme' star files class-action profiling lawsuit against Macy's

Wed Nov 13, 2013 8:20pm EST
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By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Actor Rob Brown, who stars in HBO show "Treme," sought to broaden his racial-profiling lawsuit against Macy's on Wednesday into a federal class action case, with his lawyer saying Brown hoped to use his celebrity for "social change."

Brown withdrew the lawsuit he filed last month in New York State Supreme Court against the department store and the New York City Police Department and, instead, filed two new lawsuits with the U.S. District Court in lower Manhattan seeking class-action status.

A federal judge must decide whether to grant the lawsuits class-action status.

Brown said undercover police handcuffed him and put him in a cell at Macy's Manhattan flagship store in June after an employee there accused him of credit card fraud.

The employee and the police, he said, could not believe that Brown, as a young, black man, could afford to buy a $1,300 watch and some sunglasses without stealing someone else's card.

The lawsuit against Macy's says that after realizing their mistake, a police sergeant apologetically offered to escort him to his next destination in a police car with flashing lights.

"If he wasn't Rob Brown, the actor, and he was just some person of color off the street, he would have been kept there, handed over to the police and charged with a crime he didn't commit and put into the criminal justice system," said Brown's lawyer, Douglas Wigdor.

"So, he feels strongly now that he has the ability to create substantial change and help other people," Wigdor said.   Continued...