A Black Restaurant Owner Says He Tried Assisting a White Patron in Distress. Police Arrested Him.

in News/Racism

The one place a wealthy black business owner might least expect to be arrested on flimsy charges by the police would be at a popular restaurant he owns in the heart of Harlem.

But that’s what happened to Clyde Pemberton, the owner of MIST Harlem, who along with two of his employees sued the New York Police Department last week in Manhattan federal court for false arrest and violating his civil rights. His lawyers say the entire incident suggested racial bias and was an example of the kind of interactions with law enforcement that often strain the department’s relationship with minority communities.

On June 1, 2017, Dr. Pemberton, a retired psychiatrist, was holding a business meeting at his restaurant when he saw two women leaving the bathroom, dragging a third woman who was visibly unconscious across the room at 10:30 p.m., the complaint states. The women, who were all white, knocked over a stanchion of a rope blocking off a section of the restaurant to customers.

When Dr. Pemberton, now 68, walked over to the women to ask what was wrong and suggested the unconscious woman be placed in a chair, one woman punched him in the chest and referred to him with a racial slur, according to the complaint.

By Jan Ransom


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