Actor-singer Alton Fitzgerald White, currently starring as Coalhouse Walker in the Broadway musical, Ragtime, has made good on his promise to sue the City of New York over an alleged civil rights violation.
Following what he describes as a wrongful arrest on July 16, 1999, the black actor was strip searched and jailed by the NYPD as a suspected drug felon. NYPD officers picked up White and three others after responding to a call about drug selling near White's Harlem apartment building. The officers were said to have been told White was starring in a Broadway show by his building superintendent, but he was taken in anyway.
White has said he is the victim of racial profiling and is being featured in a racial profiling story by CNN on tonight at 10 PM (repeating at 1 AM Thursday). Dateline NBC recently interviewed White as well.
The other three men arrested with White have filed a separate $2.2 million federal suit. They are Columbia University Business School graduate student Christopher Montgomery, Columbia University student activities coordinator Ronald Jackson and Donna Karan merchandiser Marcus McCollum.
White's suit, which alleges a widespread practice of unjustified arrests in New York, was filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union and seeks unspecified damages. White claims he was arrested without probable cause. Ragtime is scheduled to close at the Ford Center Jan. 16.