Owning Businesses While Black: Harlem Businessman Sues NYPD After Racist Encounter

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Source: Rainer Zapka / EyeEm / Getty

In June 2017, Black business owner Dr. Clyde Pemberbton was inside his Harlem restaurant when a white woman fell ill with two employees assisting him. When the group went to help, they allege that the woman’s friends assaulted them with racist slurs and the NYPD arrived on the scene then arrested the trio, prompting a lawsuit against the force that was filed this week adding to a growing trend of recent incidents.

Pemberton, who owns the MIST restaurant and lounge, is one of the three plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit who believe the NYPD singled them out because of their race and not for any true wrongdoing. Pemberton and the employees were arrested for an alleged false imprisonment of the patron. Pemberton and the others were held in jail overnight and fought ardently to get the charges dropped eventually.

“It is time for the NYPD to be held accountable. The NYPD must stop reflexively defending its officers without even conducting an investigation. The NYPD must take real action to stamp out discrimination by holding accountable those officers who violate citizens’ constitutional rights,” Elizabeth Saylor, Pemberton’s attorney, said in a statement.

By way of his attorney, Pemberton said that he was a member of Harlem’s vibrant business community and has even worked with the NYPD in times past.

Learn more about Pemberton’s complaint here.