UPDATE 3:51 P.M. Monday: A rep from Milano Market apologized over an incident in which Forest Whitaker was stopped and frisked by one of its employees on Saturday. The rep said the pat down was not racially motivated.
“The management of Milano Market deeply regrets the wrongful actions of our employee in stopping and frisking Forest Whitaker,” the rep told the entertainment news site. “While we can not delve into the employee’s mindset, we do not believe that he was racially motivated in his actions, simply misguided.”
The rep added that the market is taking steps to retrain employees so that such incidents do not happen again. Milano Market also wants to make a donation to a charity of Whitaker’s choice to make things right.
UPDATE 1:00 P.M. Sunday: A store employee from Milano Market spoke to the New York Daily News about the pat down Forest Whitaker endured after he was accused of stealing from the establishment.
“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.”
Really? Perhaps Forest didn’t see what he wanted and simply walked out. What’s the crime in that?
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The employee’s comments still do not sit well with the Forest, according to his representative.
“This was an upsetting incident given the fact that Forest did nothing more than walk into the deli,” said his publicist, Jennifer Plante. She said the actor was on set and unavailable to discuss the incident.
Not even the inside of a store can provide a Black man–in this case, Forest Whitaker— in New York City refuge from “Stop and Frisk.”
This time, however, the NYPD is not behind the act; it was allegedly an employee of the Upper West Side’s Milano Market who carried out the embarrassing pat down. TMZ reports that Whitaker said he was falsely accused of lifting an item off the store’s shelf and subsequently frisked by an employee. An eyewitness told the entertainment site that the Academy Award winner was frisked in plain view of everyone.
Of course, the shake down produced nothing belonging to the store and Whitaker left the establishment angry and embarrassed.
The actor’s rep told TMZ, “This was an upsetting incident given the fact that Forest did nothing more than walk into the deli. 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.”
The rep added, “Forest did not call the authorities at the request of the worker who was in fear of losing his employment. Forest asked that, in the future, the store change their behavior and treat the public in a fair and just manner.”
Milano Market has not released a statement on the incident.