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Williamsburg boutique accused of racial profiling sparks protest

WILLIAMSBURG, Brooklyn — In the heart of the progressive, gentrified, and diverse neighborhood of Williamsburg Brooklyn — a passionate Friday evening protest took place over an alleged case of racial profiling "shopping while black" in front of the popular Amarcord Vintage clothing shop.

Attorney Nancy Bedard says she was trying on clothes with her 19-year old daughter at the boutique last Friday evening, when a shop employee allegedly accused them of stealing, claiming they left the dressing room with one less item than they had when they went in.

“They feel very comfortable, with no objective evidence to suggest these things, and they are putting people of color in harm’s way," Bedard said. “I politely, over numerous times explained to them how many items they gave me, and I counted them for them."

Bedard says she and her daughter left the shop furious, and continued their walk up Bedford Avenue.

“My daughter and I were just shopping," Bedard said. "I’m an attorney, I said I really don’t have an issue with finances right now, and I have no reason to steal from your store."

A few minutes later, the white employee, now accompanied by NYPD officers, pulled up on the pair and continued accusing them of stealing.

Bedard says they were then handcuffed as the officers searched their belongings.

But officers found nothing — no stolen merchandise. Police later released a statement confirming a brief investigation was conducted and no stolen property was found on the two women.

Bedard and her daughter were released.

Curtis Harmon saw the confrontation from his apartment across street.

“She was screaming at the employees that were in the car, and that she felt like she was racially profiled," Harmon said. "They asked to look in her bag. And she didn’t feel like any of it was right."

Daniel Kron represents Amarcord’s owners, and claims surveillance video shows what’s described as a “furtive type of behavior,” alleging that Bedard and her daughter were not acting like “normal customers.”

“Furtive type behavior is suspicious. And suspicious doesn’t mean discriminatory whatsoever," Kron said. "This has nothing to do with racism. This has to do with loss prevention.”

Nancy Bedard’s husband Philp Sturges, tells PIX11, “I think this country has to face the fact that people of color are not given the same assumptions about their behavior as white people. There’s a double standard here.”