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Black man accuses Duane Reade of racial profiling

A Duane Reade store in New York City. (Photo: Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

A comedy writer says he was racially profiled at a New York City Duane Reade because he is black.

In a Twitter thread that has since gone viral, Dewayne Perkins shared video footage of his visit to a Duane Reade drugstore in Woodside, Queens, on Saturday evening. The video shows Perkins, who writes for Netflix’s The Break With Michelle Wolf, roaming three separate aisles in the store. Each time he turns into a new aisle, an automated voice recording sounds, alerting employees that “customer service” is needed in that particular section.

After observing that the customer-service alert is being set off only in the aisles he is walking along while other people shop in silence, Perkins asks to speak to a store manager. As the video shows, the manager explains that the sensors automatically go off and denies Perkins’s claims that he is “being followed.” Perkins points out that if the sensors are automatic, they would be triggered when other shoppers turn into an aisle, not just him.

At that point a fellow shopper, who is a black woman, approaches Perkins and shares that she has experienced similar treatment at Duane Reade. The store employees continue to deny any racial profiling.

In subsequent tweets, Perkins blasts his experience at the store as “unacceptable,” adding that he chose not to involve the police because “in that store my skin color got me followed, but with the police, it could get me killed.”

After Perkins’s story went viral — with many, including boss Michelle Wolf, offering their support and voicing outrage at his treatment — he returned to Twitter to add that other black people may have fared far worse in the situation.

Yahoo Lifestyle has reached out to both Perkins and Duane Reade, which is owned by Walgreens.

“We utilize automatic motion sensors in some of our Duane Reade locations in order to provide better customer service,” a Walgreens spokesperson responded. “While sensors can also help as an enhanced security measure, they are prompted by motion only, and have no manual function to generate a customer service message over the intercom. Each sensor resets after a period of time, thus they are not triggered every time a customer walks down the aisle.

“We’re aware of the video and have reached out to the customer, as we want everyone to feel welcome and treated with respect at our stores.”

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