WILLIAMSBURG, Brooklyn — “This is so far from who we are,” said Patti Bordoni, as part of a message she and Marco Liotta want the world to know.
The owners of the popular clothing shop Amarcord Vintage in Williamsburg are breaking their silence a week after protestors rallied outside, accusing the shop of racially profiling a woman and her 19-year-old daughter in a case now dubbed “shopping while black.”
“They feel very comfortable with no objective evidence to suggest these thing,” Attorney Nancy Bedard said at a rally last Friday.
Bedard says she and her daughter were trying on clothes at the boutique on May 4 when they were accused of shoplifting by a worker.
Surveillance video of the incident shows Bedard being confronted about what was believed to be a missing item from the dressing room. The heated exchange resulted in Bedard storming out after she refused to open her bag.
Police were called, the pair was detained and then released when no stolen property was found.
“I was shocked – we were devastated,” Bordoni said, describing how she felt when she heard the news.
Neither Liotta or Bordoni were at the store when the incident happened, leaving two employees at the helm while they dealt with a family situation.
The workers they say, usually work in their warehouse, not on the boutique floor.
“I felt bad because I was at my daughter’s school and not in my store,” Liotta said. “I felt bad because I wasn’t there to try to clear the situation.”
What they call a “misunderstanding” – has now spiraled out of control. Their boutique, which they say they poured their sweat, blood and tears into for nearly 2 decades, has become the target of regular smear campaigns.
“I found 37 messages of people telling me, you know calling me terrible things, calling me racist, calling me white supremacist,” Liotta said.
“It really breaks my heart,” a tearful Bordoni said. “We are not like that.”
The couple who both emigrated from Italy to chase the American dream, say that dream is now in jeopardy after suffering a financial hit from the headlines.
They say they’re well aware of the plight of African Americans and the rampant profiling they face, but this is simply not one of those cases.
“This was a gigantic misunderstanding,” Liotta said.
The shop owners tell us they made several attempts to reach out to Bedard in hopes of resolving the situation.
They say they never heard back.
PIX11 also reached out to her Friday, seeking a response to our interview with the couple. Bedard referred us to her attorney.