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Forever 21 May Face Lawsuit After Manager Refused to Apologize to Black Couple for Wrongfully Accusing Them of Stealing: ‘You Picked the Wrong Ones’

A San Francisco youth group leader says he will be consulting an attorney after his wife was accused of stealing from a Forever 21 store the couple frequents.

Richard “Rich” Bougere and his wife Danielle Banks, both founders of the performing arts group Project Level, recorded the moments after what they described as an “embarrassing” encounter with police Sunday at the store on Stockton Street.

“You picked with the wrong ones, man,” Bougere said in the video posted on Facebook. “We have too much money, too much influence, too much power to ever steal from anywhere, so you’ll be hearing from our lawyers, Forever 21.”

The retailer responded to Atlanta Black Star with a statement Thursday.

“After conducting an investigation into the situation, we confirmed that the police were notified due to specific shopping behaviors, consisting of bringing in non-Forever 21 products and mixing and matching with in-store merchandise, which created confusion,” the company said. “We sincerely apologize for the misunderstanding and are working with the Mayor’s Office and the parties involved to learn from this experience, and make it right, as we take this matter extremely seriously.”

Youth group accused of stealing from Forever 21
Richard Bougere, a San Francisco youth group leader, says his wife was accused of stealing from a Forever 21 store the couple was taking its youth group to for a shopping trip. (Photo by Facebook)

Banks said on Facebook she and Bougere have spent thousands of dollars at Forever 21 and they decided to take three students in their youth group shopping there for clothes for a big shoot.

They arrived at the store about 5 p.m. and ended up taking clothes to try on to the store’s dressing room.

Banks said when she was in the dressing room area, two San Francisco police officers cornered her. They told her she’s being accused of putting clothes inside a white grocery bag and searched the bag in question.

When they didn’t find anything, we were “allowed to keep shopping in Forever 21,” Banks said.

But when the store manager refused to apologize for the accusation, Banks instead decided to leave the store with her group without purchasing anything.

“What hurts the most is we were shopping for our students who don’t have the means to be styled like professional artists,” Banks said. “Rich and I use our own money to give youth an opportunity they unfortunately can’t afford.”

Woman Forever 21 accused of stealing
Danielle Banks says she was accused of stealing from a Forever 21 store the couple was taking its youth group to for a shopping trip. (Photo by Facebook)

Banks said she and her husband also employ more than 75 children, who will be making $2,400 or more this summer through San Francisco Mayor London Breed’s ‘Opportunities for All’ initiative.

“Forever 21 how dare you disrespect the very people who spend their hard earn dollars with you,” Banks said. “You racially profiled two beloved San Franciscan’s who give to empower communities of color.”

Project Level intern Mikayla Sherman told CBS affiliate KPIX-TV she doesn’t have to steal and she’s never before stolen anything, despite the encounter with police.

“It was so embarrassing, ’cause then it looked like we did do something, and we didn’t,” she said.

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