Al Sharpton’s group said Thursday it was seeking a meeting with the CEO of Barneys New York in the wake of racial profiling claims by two shoppers at the high-end department store.
The Brooklyn chapter of Sharpton’s National Action Network said the group also plans to picket Barneys if the “racial profiling” does not stop.
Two black shoppers this week accused Barneys of detaining them after they made expensive purchases at the store in Manhattan. One of them has filed a discrimination lawsuit against Barneys, the city and its police department; another filed a complaint with the police watchdog.
“Barneys New York has zero tolerance for any form of discrimination and we stand by our long history in support of all human rights,” the luxury retailer said in a statement.
Sharpton, a divisive figure who has in the past alleged discrimination that was later disproved, said his group plans other action against the New York Police Department for what it called “continued use of the discriminatory pattern and practice against people of color.”
Trayon Christian, 19, of Queens, filed a lawsuit Monday saying he was detained solely because he is a young black man.
According to the lawsuit, Christian went to Barneys on April 29 and purchased a $350 Ferragamo belt. After leaving, he was accosted by undercover NYPD officers, who said someone at the store had raised concerns about the sale, he said.
The lawsuit said he showed the receipt from the purchase, the debit card he used and identification to the officers, but he was told the identification was false and “that he could not afford to make such an expensive purchase.”
The lawsuit said he was held in a precinct cell for more than two hours before being released without charges. It claimed “discrimination based on plaintiff’s race and age as he was a young black American male.”
The NYPD said Thursday it has gotten 53 grand-larceny complaints this year for credit-card fraud at the Madison Avenue store and made 47 arrests.
A shopper who heard about the lawsuit came forward Wednesday to say she had a similar experience after purchasing a $2,500 Celine handbag in February.
Kayla Phillips, 21, of Brooklyn, said she was surrounded by police after leaving the store, wanting to know why she had used a debit card without a name on it.
Phillips explained that it was a temporary card, and after showing police identification and a new debit card that had arrived in the mail that morning, they let her go.
She also intends to sue the police department.