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Black Man Imprisoned for 3 months After Trying to Buy Breakfast at Burger King, Sues for Nearly $1M

As 911 calls are continually being made to authorities regarding Black people simply existing, a Black man’s experience with racial profiling at Burger King is coming to light. On Tuesday, he filed a $950,000 lawsuit.


In November 2015, Emory Ellis, who was homeless at the time, went to a Burger King in Boston, Mass., to buy breakfast. The cashier accused Ellis of using a fake $10 bill and called the police. He was arrested and charged with forgery of a bank note. Ellis had been on probation for a separate incident, so he wound up spending three months behind bars, according to Law 360.

Prosecutors dropped the forgery charge after the Secret Service concluded Ellis’ bill was real, the lawsuit states. He was released from jail in February 2016.

Ellis says in the lawsuit he filed this week at Suffolk Superior Court that he was discriminated against because of his appearance, reports the Associated Press (AP).

“Nobody deserves to be treated the way that Emory was treated,” Ellis’ attorney Justin Drechsler said.

Drechsler said “the cashier likely wouldn’t have questioned if the money was real if a white man in a suit handed him the same bill,” according to the AP. “Even if he did, the cashier probably would have apologized and said he couldn’t accept the cash instead of calling police.”

The company does not tolerate discrimination “of any kind,” said a Burger King Corp. spokesperson, who also stated the company could not comment on the specifics of the case, the AP reports.

This month alone, there have been several instances of Black people being falsely accused of stealing from establishments. The police were called on three Black males in the St. Louis, Mo., area accused of shoplifting at a Nordstrom Rack. There was no evidence to support the employee’s claim.

In Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a Black attorney and her daughter were racially profiled at a boutique and accused by an employee of shoplifting. The police were called and the women were handcuffed and detained. Again, there was no evidence to support the employee’s claim.

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