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October 28, 2013




New York City's Racial Profiling Press Coverage - Oct 24th through Oct 28th - With 2,000 "Stop and Frisk" incidents a day in NYC by NYPD, the impact it's having on retailers is huge!  Listed chronologically, the coverage has been rather extensive with news channels running pieces and the Rev. Al Sharpton now involved. With mention of a possible boycott during this holiday season and sales being rather soft in the high-end retailing segment, this could lead to a significant impact. However, with rap star Jay-Z coming out in support of his scholarship program with Barney's, let's hope that has an impact. Of interesting note is that Barney's claims no Barney's employee was involved in the NYPD stop of their customer and they did not request the stop. Macy's even claims no employees were involved in theirs either. But yesterday a fourth customer appears saying he was stopped by NYPD as well. With over 2,000 "stop and frisk" incidents a day in NYC this problem is creating issues.

Appearing in the Daily Thursday, 10-24-13:

Racial Profiling suits mount up against NYPD in Barney's incident - another black female accused of credit card fraud after buying $2,500 purse from Barney's - files $5M lawsuit against NYPD - second one in one week  A Barneys spokesman said in a statement that the upscale store had carefully reviewed Christian’s incident. “It is clear that no employee of Barneys New York was involved in the pursuit of any action with the individual other than the sale... We are very sorry that any customer of our store would have this experience,” the statement read. A security guard told the mother of one of the females that the store has law enforcement on patrol inside the store — part of an NYPD fraud task force. A source confirmed that undercover cops are periodically inside the store because of repeated fraud complaints. NYPD officials wouldn’t say whether there was a dedicated task force working at Barneys or other luxury retailers. Four plainclothes cops accused a black woman of credit card fraud after the Brooklyn mom bought a $2,500 designer bag from Barneys — stoking a fresh round of outrage against the high-end store. Phillips made the purchase without incident but says she was surrounded by cops just three blocks away, at the Lexington Ave. and 59th St. subway station. “There were three men and a woman,” she recalled. “Two of them attacked me and pushed me against a wall, and the other two appeared in front of me, blocking the turnstile.” The cops started peppering her with questions and demanding to see her ID. “They were very rough,” said Phillips, who has filed a $5 million notice of claim with the city of her intention to sue the NYPD. “They kept asking me what I bought and saying, ‘Show us your card.’ I didn’t know what was happening. The other incident they cuffed a 19 year old black male and took him to the 19th Precinct but later released him with no charges filed. (Source

Appearing in the Daily Friday, 10-25-13:

Barneys NY pledges security policy review after racial profiling claims
Barneys New York department store, accused of racially profiling shoppers, said Thursday it has retained a civil rights expert to lead a review of its policies and procedures and has reached out to community leaders to start a dialogue. Two black shoppers said they were questioned by police after they made expensive purchases at the Manhattan store. One has filed a discrimination lawsuit against Barneys, the city and its police department; the other has filed a complaint with the city's police watchdog agency. Mark Lee, Barney's CEO, offered his "sincere regret and deepest apologies." "We are conducting a thorough review of our practices and procedures as they relate to these matters to ensure that they reflect our continued commitment to fairness and equality," he said in a statement. (Source

Appearing in the NY Post Friday, 10-25-13, 2:00 pm:

Star: I was racially profiled at Macy’s
Cops allegedly targeted a Brooklyn actor in what has become an ugly trend — getting cuffed for shopping while black. Rob Brown, 29, who starred with Sean Connery in 2000’s “Finding Forrester” and starred in HBO’s “Treme,” says he was unlawfully detained after buying a watch for his mom in Macy’s Herald Square. The actor filed a lawsuit against Macy’s and the NYPD on Friday — and is now the third black New Yorker to sue the Police Department over a shop-and-frisk since May. You can’t let injustice roll like that,” the Amherst College grad told The Post, adding that the cops made him miss his mom’s college graduation. I’ll never get that time back. My mother was walking across the stage looking for me." All three shoppers were detained by police and ­accused of making fraudulent luxury purchases at top Manhattan shopping destinations. (Source

Appearing in the Huffington Post Friday, 10-25-13, 4:16 pm:

Barneys' Racial Profiling Problem Stretches Back At Least 20 Years
Back in the spring of 1990, Johnnie Roberts was looking to celebrate a journalism award he had won. Roberts, who is black, headed to Barneys on 7th Ave. in New York City and picked out a $600 Hugo Boss suit. He met a tailor for alterations, left the store, and returned to pick up the suit two weeks later. What happened next would find eerie parallels to the experiences of two black customers who alleged appalling racial discrimination at the luxury retailer this week -- some 23 years later. The store manager refused to apologize. Roberts reached out to company executives who also refused to apologize. The Pressmans, the founding family of Barneys, told Roberts that he was the one who caused the clerk to make the mistake. Roberts began a boycott. Barneys New York has since changed hands. Barneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday after HuffPost unearthed Roberts's 1996 article, but Barneys chief executive Mark Lee promised change in a statement released on Thursday. Lee offered his "sincere regret and deepest apologies" and said the company plans to review its procedures in order to prevent this type of incident from happening again. (Source

Appearing in the NY Daily News Saturday, 10-26-13, 10:39 am:

Rob Brown, star of ‘Treme,’ says he was arrested at Macy’s after buying mom watch  The actor has filed a lawsuit against the retailer, alleging he was ‘paraded’ through the Herald Square location in handcuffs and placed in a holding cell after making a purchase — for no reason other than an employee there was skeptical his credit card was really his. Brown has starred in blockbusters like 'Finding Forrester,' 'Coach Carter,' and had a role in 'The Dark Knight Rises'. “The Express” star’s allegations against Macy’s come days after the Daily News revealed another high-end retailer, Barneys, was rocked by complaints it had racially profiled two black shoppers for credit card fraud when they made pricey purchases at the snooty store. Why was I put in cuffs? Why was I even approached?” Brown, 29, asked at his attorney’s office Friday night. “It was a slap in the face.” A spokesperson for Macy’s said in a statement, “We are investigating the alleged claims, as we were just made aware of this lawsuit. We do not comment on matters in litigation.” (Source

Appearing on Fox News Saturday, 10-26-13, 11:24 am, hit all major news wires throughout the day:

Sharpton threatens boycott of retailer Barneys over NYC shoppers' racial-profiling claims - drags in Macy's and even Bergdorf Goodman  The Rev. Al Sharpton threatened Saturday to boycott luxury retailer Barneys if the department store doesn't respond adequately to allegations by black shoppers that they were racially profiled there. We've gone from stop and frisk to shop and frisk, and we are not going to take it," the black civil rights leader said. "We are not going to live in a town where our money is considered suspect and everyone else's money is respected." Two black Barneys New York customers, Trayon Christian and Kayla Phillips, said last week they were detained by police after making expensive purchases. (Source

Appearing on NY Post Saturday, 10-26-13, 5:02 pm:

Al Sharpton defends Jay-Z amid Barneys ‘racism’
Jay Z is not the enemy — Barneys is, the Rev. Al Sharpton said Saturday, going easy on the rapper even while he threatened to mount a boycott of the luxe department chain after two shoppers alleged they were racially profiled. Speaking to reporters at his National Action Network offices, Sharpton vowed to put shopping at Barneys “on hold” if store execs didn’t have an acceptable plan for ending discrimination when his NAN reps meet with them on Tuesday. Bring the data,” he urged execs, referring to store records of all the shoppers — white and minority — who may have been reported to NYPD for making expensive purchases. If Barneys claims it can’t quickly compile those records because the holiday season is looming, then, “That means we got some days off,” Sharpton said. “We’ll march all the way down to your store — I’ll serve turkey right on the corner.” (Source

Appearing in Reuters Saturday, 10-26-13, 5:15 pm:

Macy's joins Barneys in brewing NYC 'shop-and-frisk' scandal with actor Rob Brown stopped by Macy's in June  New York's civil rights leaders on Saturday angrily decried the city's brewing "shop-and-frisk" scandal, in which two major retailers stand accused of profiling black shoppers who say they were detained by police after buying luxury items. We've gone from stop-and-frisk to shop-and-frisk," said Reverend Al Sharpton, president of National Action Network, alluding to a police crime-fighting tactic that critics say amounts to racial profiling. Network representative is set to meet next week with Mark Lee, the chief executive of Barneys New York, following allegations from two black shoppers that they were detained by New York police and accused of fraud after buying luxury items at Barneys. In a third such allegation made this week, actor Rob Brown of HBO's "Treme" told the New York Daily News on Friday that he had been "paraded" through a midtown Mahattan Macy's in handcuffs in June, and held for an hour, after purchasing a $1,350 gold Movado watch for his mother. Brown said he came forward after reading news accounts of others who had had similar experiences at Barneys. Brown told the newspaper he "implored" cops to check his ID, but "they kept telling me, ‘Your card is fake. You're going to jail.'" Retailer Barneys New York publicly apologized this week, and Macy's Inc said late on Friday that it is investigating Brown's allegations. (Source

Appearing in Reuters Saturday, 10-26-13, 6:28 pm:

Barneys New York hires civil rights pro amid discrimination claims
Barneys New York hired an anti-discrimination expert and agreed to have its chief executive meet with a civil rights group following allegations that the luxury store racially profiled black customers, a spokeswoman said on Friday. Reverend Al Sharpton's National Action Network demanded the sitdown with CEO Mark Lee, scheduled for early next week after two black customers said they were stopped by police and questioned about expensive purchases they made at the Manhattan store. I felt helpless, confused, demeaned, humiliated and embarrassed," Kayla Phillips, 21, a nursing student from Brooklyn, told reporters at a press conference on Friday. Phillips said she was surrounded by four undercover officers outside the subway in February after purchasing a $2,500 Celine handbag. She has filed notice she plans to sue the New York City Police Department and she intends to sue Barneys too, her lawyer said. In a lawsuit against both the NYPD and Barneys, Trayon Christian, 19, a technical college student from Queens, said he was handcuffed and detained by police for two hours in April after buying a $349 Ferragamo belt. Barneys posted an apology on its Facebook page late on Thursday and said it was taking steps to address the allegations, including hiring civil rights attorney Michael Yaki of San Francisco, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, to review the store's practices and procedures. (Source

Appearing in ABC News Sunday, 10-27-13, with video coverage of NYPD's "stop and frisk" policy training:

Macy's Says Its Employees Not Involved in 'Shop and Frisk' Allegations  Two New York department stores are defending themselves against allegations of racial discrimination from shoppers, who say they were wrongly accused of shoplifting because of their race. Both Macy's and Barneys are facing lawsuits from customers, who say they were either arrested or detained shortly after legally purchasing an item at the stores. The most recent accusation comes from "Treme" actor Robert Brown, 29, who filed a lawsuit against Macy's that alleges he was "paraded" through the store in handcuffs after he purchased a $1,350 watch for his mom. (Source

Appearing in CBS News Sunday, 10-27-13, 8:24 am:

Jay-Z defends Barneys deal after discrimination claims
Jay-Z - under increasing pressure to back out of a collaboration with the luxury store Barneys New York after it was accused of racially profiling two black customers - said Saturday he's being unfairly "demonized" for just waiting to hear all of the facts. The rap mogul made his first statement about the controversy in a posting on his website. He has come under fire for remaining silent as news surfaced this week that two young black people said they were profiled by Barneys after they purchased expensive items from their Manhattan store. An online petition and Twitter messages from fans have been circulating this week, calling on the star to bow out of his upcoming partnership with Barneys for the holiday season, which will have the store selling items by top designers, inspired by Jay-Z, with some of the proceeds going to his charity. He is also working with the store to create its artistic holiday window display. But Jay-Z - whose real name is Shawn Carter - defended himself, saying that he hasn't spoken about it because he's still trying to figure out exactly what happened. "I move and speak based on facts and not emotion," the statement said. "I haven't made any comments because I am waiting on facts and the outcome of a meeting between community leaders and Barneys. Why am I being demonized, denounced and thrown on the cover of a newspaper for not speaking immediately?" he said, referring to local newspaper headlines. He also dismissed reports that he would profit from the collaboration. He said he's "not making a dime" from working with Barneys. Instead, his Shawn Carter Foundation, which provides college scholarships to economically challenged students, will get 25 percent of all sales from the collaboration. "This money is going to help individuals facing socio-economic hardships to help further their education at institutions of higher learning," he said. "My idea was born out of creativity and charity... not profit." He also said that "making a decision prematurely to pull out of this project wouldn't hurt Barneys or Shawn Carter but all the people that stand a chance at higher education," he said. "I have been working with my team ever since the situation was brought to my attention to get to the bottom of these incidents and at the same time find a solution that doesn't harm all those that stand to benefit from this collaboration." (Source

Appearing in NY Daily News Sunday, 10-27-13, 9:01 am:

Fourth New York shopper, pointing at Macy’s, makes racial profiling allegations  Art Palmer says four plainclothes cops questioned him three blocks away from the flagship store after he bought $320 worth of Polo dress shirts and ties. The latest accusation echoes those by Trayon Christian and Kayla Phillips against Barneys and by actor Robert Brown against the same Macy’s. Another department store customer came forward Sunday with the fourth “shopping while black” complaint in a week — a customer who says he was surrounded by cops after a legitimate purchase at Macy’s Herald Square in New York. In an eerie echo of the three prior allegations of racial profiling last week, Art Palmer said four plainclothes cops questioned him just three blocks away from the flagship store after he bought $320 worth of Polo dress shirts and ties April 24. Palmer, a 56-year-old exercise trainer from Crown Heights, Brooklyn, said he made the purchase without incident, using both his Macy’s platinum card and his American Express card. He was walking to a gym on Park Ave. when police surrounded him and demanded to see his ID. The officers said they were suspicious because they had lost sight of him on the store’s surveillance cameras, he said. The reason why we stopped you was because you were standing in an area at Macy’s where we could not see you,” one of the officers said, Palmer told reporters Sunday. When asked if he believed he was racially profiled, he said, “There was no other reason.” When Palmer returned to the store the next day to complain, a Macy’s manager blamed it on the cops and said officers frequently come into the store to monitor surveillance videos without permission, according to Palmer. (Source


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