NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Rev. Al Sharpton on Saturday called threatened to boycott the luxury retailer Barneys, in response to allegations by shoppers who claimed they were racially profiled.
Sharpton said Saturday that black New Yorkers “are not going to live in a town where our money is considered suspect and everyone else’s money is respected.”READ MORE: Police: Burglars Smashing Into Pharmacies In Brooklyn And Queens, Stealing Cash, Prescription Pills
Sharpton vowed to put shopping at Barneys “on hold” if the retailer fails to respond adequately to the allegations.
Earlier this week, Kirsten John Foy, president of Sharpton’s National Action Network, spoke with Barneys chief executive officer Mark Lee and made plans to meet next week, according to a published report.
Earlier this week, City College of Technology student Trayon Christian, 19, filed a civil rights lawsuit against the NYPD and Barneys New York, claiming he was racially profiled while shopping at the Madison Avenue store.
Christian said the store and police targeted him back in April because they didn’t think he could afford a $349 Ferragamo belt.
Christian said he had just been paid from his work-study job when he went to Barneys to purchase the belt back in April.
After buying the belt using his Chase debit card, Christian’s attorney, Michael Palillo, said he was stopped less than a block from the store by undercover NYPD detectives.
Palillo said the officers told Christian they had received a call from Barneys telling them that the debit card he used to buy the belt was fraudulent.
Palillo said Christian was then handcuffed and taken to a police precinct where he was held for two hours. He was released after his bank verified his account and debit card.
Christian, who later returned the belt to the store, has filed a lawsuit seeking unspecified damages, claiming the incident has caused him great physical and mental distress.
Christian sued Barneys, saying he was accused of fraud after using his debit card to buy a $349 Ferragamo belt in April.
Another shopper, 21-year-old Kayla Phillips, has filed a complaint with the city’s police watchdog agency, claiming she had a similar experience after buying a $2,500 Celine handbag in February.
In a statement, Barneys denied that it was involved in any detention, saying “after carefully reviewing the incident of last April, 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.”
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In the wake of the Barneys scandal, some critics also have turned their attention to hip-hop artist Jay-Z.
“If they’re targeting minorities and he’s a minority, I think what he has to do is step up and put pressure on them as well,” resident Sheena Rue added.
The rapper, whose real name is Shawn Carter, has a collection set to debut at the store next month, CBS 2’s Andrea Grymes reported.
On Saturday, he released a statement that questioned why he had come under fire in the wake of the profiling allegations.
“I am not making a dime from this collection,” he said in the statement, “I do not stand to make millions, as falsely reported.”
Carter went on to explain that a portion of the profits are supposed to go to his foundation and will be used to educate children from lower-income households.
Jay-Z said that while profiling is not something that he is okay with he is waiting on the facts.
“I am not stranger to being profiled,” he said, “And I truly empathize with anyone that has been put in that position. Hopefully this brings forth a dialogue to effect real change.
Jay-Z is currently in Europe on tour and Barneys’ chief executive officer said the store is now conducting an internal review of practices and procedures.
Also in the wake of the scandal, actor Rob Brown claimed he was racially profiled at the Macy’s Herald Square store, after employees there contacted authorities about possible credit card fraud. He said he was held at the store, handcuffed and searched before being released. He has filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court.
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