October 21, 2020

OHT-Fashion

Clothes that smile

Versace exec claims he was racially profiled in Beverly Hills jaywalking stop

A black vice president at Versace has claimed that he was racially profiled by Beverly Hills police when they stopped him for jaywalking.

“So I’m in Beverly Hills right now and I’m getting f—king searched for shopping at the store I work for and just being black,” Salehe Bembury, the fashion brand’s vice president of sneakers and men’s footwear, said in an Instagram video that he took while holding up a Versace shopping bag during his encounter with cops last Thursday.

A cop in the video fired back, “You’re making a completely different narrative,” before police gave him the OK to go.

Bembury captioned the clip: “BEVERLY HILLS WHILE BLACK. I’M OK, MY SPIRIT IS NOT.”

The Beverly Hills Police Department said Bembury was stopped for jaywalking while walking near Camden Drive and Wilshire Boulevard, NBC Los Angeles reported.

Police body-cam footage released by the department shows a pair of cops approach Bembury and question him for jaywalking.

“Oh, I jaywalked I guess,” a shaken Bembury told the officers, according to the footage.

One cop asked, “How come you did that?” and Bembury replied, “I jaywalked. I don’t know what else to say.”

The footage then shows the officer asking if Bembury has any ID or weapons on him before patting Bembury down to search him.

“You can do whatever you want. I’m just nervous,” Bembury said.

As the cop moved to search Bembury, the officer said, “I just want to make sure you don’t have any weapons real quick.”

Salehe Bembury (right) with 2 Chainz
Salehe Bembury (right) with 2 ChainzGetty Images

“This is embarrassing to be frank,” Bembury said, adding, “What’s unfortunate is, I designed the shoes in this bag and I’m being searched.”

“The pat down feels excessive,” Bembury told cops, according to the video.

As one officer checks Bembury’s ID, he then asked if he can pick up his cell phone so he can record.

“I have to record this because I just don’t feel comfortable,” Bembury said, the footage shows. “I’m uncomfortable. I’m nervous, you understand the climate we’re in.”

“This is uncomfortable for me,” he said.

After Bembury recorded himself alleging he was searched for “just being black,” the cop involved objected.

“You can’t jaywalk, correct,” said the officer. “Next time don’t change the narrative.”

Bembury posted partial footage of the roughly three minute interaction with police to his Instagram with the caption, “Fear.”

Donatella Versace, the artistic director of the Italian fashion company that her brother Gianni Versace founded, condemned the incident in a post on her Instagram.

“I am appalled this happened to Salehe Bembury today. He has been a consultant at Versace for a long time and the behavior he experienced is totally unacceptable,” Versace wrote. “He was stopped on the street solely for the color of his skin. Stay strong @salehebembury. Sending you love and support x.”