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Detroit’s Top Civil Rights Attorney Falsely Accused Of Shoplifting In Possible Racial Profiling Case

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"Detroit’s Top Civil Rights Attorney Falsely Accused Of Shoplifting In Possible Racial Profiling Case"

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SMITH DAHAN

CREDIT: AP Photo/Daniel Hulshizer

Portia Roberson is an attorney, a former prosecutor, and a former Obama Administration official who worked in the Justice Department and the White House. She currently heads the Civil Rights and Ethics Division for the city of Detroit. Yet, when she walked into a Talbots clothing store last Sunday to return some clothes and try on new ones, a member of the store’s staff looked at her and somehow saw a shoplifter.

According to Roberson, who is African American, she visited the store to return two items she’d bought online, and says that she told a salesperson that she had the items she’d purchased in her bag. Roberson wrote about what happened next on her Facebook page:

When I exit the fitting room, I’m confronted by two GP police officers who ask to search my bag and ask me if I have any merchandise in the bag. I tell them to go ahead and search and point out the items and the receipt. He (the officer) tells me it is clear that someone made a mistake and then takes my bag to the store manager to point out that everything that I have in my possession, I have purchased. . . . The manager’s explanation was that she had asked the police to do a walk around the store because it was so busy (four customers, including me) however I pointed out to her that after searching me, they left without searching anyone else.

Talbots has admitted that “the police should not have been called and acknowledge[d] that Ms. Roberson’s personal belongings should not have been searched,” and says they are investigating the incident.

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