Black restaurateur in Harlem sues NYPD after arrest at his own business

Photo source: FaceBook-NYPD

When it comes to top restaurants in Harlem, New York, MIST has received accolades on its food, atmosphere and live entertainment. So it was a shock to the owner, D. Clyde Pemberton, when he found himself and an employee arrested by New York City police on the word of drunk White customers.

The incident occurred in June 2017, when Pemberton noticed two White customers dragging a third unconscious woman from the restroom across the floor. When Pemberton, a licensed psychiatrist, saw the group knock over a stanchion, he interceded and stated that perhaps the woman should be placed in a chair and medical assistance rendered.

For that response, Pemberton said he was struck by one of the women and called a racial slur. Another woman then hit employee Christian Baptiste in the head with her purse, and restaurant workers called 911 as the White women became more physically aggressive.

When police arrived, the end result was not what Pemberton expected. An NYPD supervisor from the 28th Precinct arrived and, according to Pemberton, only spoke to the White women who were the aggressors. The women claimed that Pemberton would not let them out of the restaurant. As a result, Pemberton, Baptiste and another employee, Thomas Debnam, were arrested and charged with unlawful imprisonment. The charges were eventually dropped last November.

Now, according to The New York Times, Pemberton has launched a lawsuit against the NYPD for their actions that day. In the lawsuit, Pemberton claims he was arrested “for being a conscientious business owner while Black” and that he, Baptiste and Debnam “did nothing wrong, and no reasonable police officer would have believed they did anything wrong.”

In addition, the lawsuit further claims that the NYPD arrested the three men “not because of their conduct, but because they were there and they are Black. Neither their side of the story nor their freedom mattered to the police.”

Nicholas Paolucci, a spokesman for the city of New York Law Department, stated that the unit will “review the case and respond accordingly.”

Mo Barnes
Mo Barnes

Maurice "Mo" Barnes is a graduate of Morehouse College and Political Scientist based in Atlanta. Mo is also a Blues musician. He has been writing for Rolling Out since 2014. Whether it means walking through a bloody police shooting to help a family find justice or showing the multifaceted talent of the Black Diaspora I write the news.