While visiting the Milano Market, a Manhattan deli in the Morningside Heights area, on the weekend of February 16, 2013, actor and director Forest Whitaker found himself at the receiving end of a “touch and grab” frisking session, courtesy of a Milano Market employee. Whitaker, a Los Angeles, California resident, was in New York filming, “Black Nativity”.
Some stories say that Whitaker entered the store, went to a shelf and immediately turned and exited the store, whereby he was interrupted in stride, by an Milano Market employee, who stated his belief of Whitaker shoplifting products.
“An employee from the store came outside to speak with him and to apologize. He told Mr. Whitaker that the cameras in the store were at a bad angle and that he could not see if Forest had stolen anything.” Reggie Crupe, Forest Whitaker’s driver, said in a statement reported by the New York Post.
The accusation was, then, followed by the shake down, wherein no market products were found. Whitaker, humiliated by his very public molestation, declined to contact police and, amidst apologies and food offerings, simply requested that the store adapt a better standard of operations for dealing with alleged thieves and left the premises.
“What is most unfortunate about this situation is the inappropriate way store employees are treating patrons of their establishment. Forest asked that, in the future, the store change their behavior and treat the public in a fair and just manner.” ~ Jennifer Plante, publicist of Forest Whitaker, as provided by the NY Daily News.
Ironically, a completely different version of the incident is that some Milano Market employees state that the whole incident never took place at all. Maybe some of the wish it never did, especially the accuser, who is now in fear of losing employment. Milano Market is known for being patronized by celebrity, so maybe denial is an attempt to retain high caliber clientele.
Forest Whitaker is about as high caliber as one can get in the film industry.
Whitaker is a prominent actor and director. He is best known as an actor for his portrayal of Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland, while solidifying his title as director of the hit movie “Waiting to Exhale”. He is only one of eight actors to have received the five most prestigious awards that an actor can receive (Academy Award, BAFTA Award, Critics' Choice Award, Golden Globe Award and SAG Award) in one performance. He is also the fourth African American male to win an Academy Award for Best Actor. He has a boatload of other awards from several prestigious film industry associations.
Whitaker is married to former model Keisha Whitaker, and he is the father of four children (Ocean, True, Sonnet Noel and Autumn).
With Whitaker’s dramatic fluctuations in weight within the last two years (sometimes to capture substance of a character he is playing and sometimes due to rigorous schedule), he may look a little more scruffy or weathered these days, but would you say that it warrants a theft accusation and humiliatingly public “pat down”?