Versace executive accuses Los Angeles police of racial profiling | Fashion

A black Versace executive says he was racially profiled close to the Beverly Hills branch of the Italian luxury fashion brand.

Salehe Bembury, the vice-president of sneakers and men’s footwear at Versace, was stopped and searched for jaywalking in Rodeo Drive, near Camden Drive and Wilshire Boulevard.

“What’s unfortunate is I literally designed the shoes that are in the bag and I’m fucking being searched for them,” Bembury appears telling police officers in a video of the incident.

In the footage from 1 October, police officers ask Bembury why he is crossing the road. “I jaywalked, I don’t know what to say,” he answers, adding that he was looking at his GPS to see where he was going. One of the policemen then asks Bembury to show them his ID without reaching into his pockets. The police then ask him to put his arms behind his back while he’s searched.

The officer asks Bembury if he has any weapons on him and he replies that he does not. In the footage he tells the officers he feels “super nervous” and asks if he can film the interaction with his mobile. “This feels a little excessive,” Bembury adds.

“So I’m in Beverly Hills right now and I’m getting fucking searched for shopping at the store I work for, and just being Black,” Bembury says in another video he filmed with his phone, holding up a Versace shopping bag to the camera. “Now what you’re doing is you’re making a completely different narrative,” the police officer remarks.

Bembury then asked if the ID check showed anything on his record and another officer said he was free to go. “BEVERLY HILLS WHILE BLACK,” Bembury captioned the video he recorded. “I’M OK, MY SPIRIT IS NOT.”

Donatella Versace condemned the incident in an Instagram post, which shared one of his videos. “I am appalled this happened to Salehe Bembury today,” she wrote. “He has been a consultant at Versace for a long time and the behaviour he experienced is totally unacceptable. He was stopped on the street solely for the colour of his skin.”

“Beverly Hills police conducted a pedestrian enforcement stop at Camden Drive and Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills after Mr Salehe Bembury was observed committing a pedestrian violation,” the police department said in a press release.

In July Edward Enninful, the editor of British Vogue, was racially profiled by security staff after being told to “use the loading bay” as he entered the offices of the magazine.

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