NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — There are growing calls for authorities to investigate allegations of racial profiling at major department stores in New York City following claims by a series of black shoppers who said they were targeted by the stores and police.
Brooklyn State Sen. Eric Adams wants the New York City’s Commission on Human Rights to look into reports of unfair treatment of African-American shoppers.
“We’ve fought too hard to stop stop-and-frisk and we are not going to lay down and allow shop and frisk,” Adams said. “To target innocent people as they either leave the store or shop in the store, it is wrong.”
Crown Heights resident Art Palmer said he used two credit cards to spend several hundred dollars on shirts and ties at Macy’s Herald Square back in April.
He said he was then stopped by four undercover police officers outside.
“They ran up on me and pulled out their badge and demanded to see my merchandise,” he said. “Went through everything, checking receipt against shirt making sure it matched. I was humiliated.”
Palmer is the fourth person in less than a week to accuse a New York City department store of racial profiling.
Rob Brown, a black actor who works on the HBO series “Treme,” said he was detained nearly an hour by police on June 8 after employees contacted authorities about possible credit card fraud.
He said he was buying a $1,3000 watch for his mother. The actor has filed a lawsuit.
In a statement, Macy’s said there was no record of any employee contacting authorities about Brown’s purchase. The store said police officers requested use of a room in the building and that request was granted.
The store said it was reaching out to Brown, and continuing to investigate the situation.
Last week, two people filed claims against Barneys New York and the NYPD.
Trayon Christian sued Barneys, saying he was accused of fraud after using his debit card to buy a $349 Ferragamo belt in April.
Kayla Philips filed a notice of claim saying she would sue after she was stopped by detectives outside the store when she bought a $2,500 Celine handbag in February.
Media mogul Jay-Z is preparing to debut a collection at Barney’s next month. An online petition and Twitter messages from fans had been circulating calling on the star to bow out of the upcoming partnership.
Over the weekend, he released a statement saying the profits of the collection are being funneled to a foundation that helps educate kids from low-income households.
“The negligent, erroneous reports and attacks on my character, intentions and the spirit of this collaboration have forced me into a statement I didn’t want to make without the full facts,” he added.
Jay-Z said he understood what it felt like to be racially profiled, but also didn’t want to jump to unfair conclusions.
“I am no stranger to being profiled and I truly empathize with anyone that has been put in that position. Hopefully this brings forth a dialogue to effect real change.”
As the criticism grew, Barneys said it had retained a civil rights expert to help review its procedures. The CEO of Barneys, Mark Lee, offered his “sincere regret and deepest apologies.”
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