NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Barneys New York said it will start monitoring the police as they monitor shoppers in its flagship Manhattan store.
An internal Barneys memo sent to store security staff Tuesday said Barneys would start keeping a log of which police officers use its security room. The memo obtained by The Associated Press said Barneys would maintain video and audio surveillance of the room where security staff and police watch monitors set up around the store.
The memo also said that any officer using the room shall provide “a reasonable description of the individual or individuals that they wish to place under surveillance and the reason the police wish to place such individuals under surveillance.”
It comes after two black shoppers said they were racially profiled at Barneys earlier this year.
Last month, Trayon Christian, a 19-year-old City College of Technology student, filed a lawsuit against the NYPD and Barneys, claiming he was racially targeted after buying a $349 Ferragamo belt in April at the Madison Avenue store.
Another customer, Kayla Phillips, 21, 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.
Barneys chief executive officer Mark Lee met with civil rights leaders and issued an apology to the customers saying, “No one should go through the unacceptable experiences described by Trayon Christian and Kayla Phillips in recent media reports, and we offer our deepest sympathies to them both.”
But the company insists its employees did nothing wrong.
In a report released last Tuesday, Barneys said its employees did not initiate any profiling, and did not call police in to check out the two customers when they purchased expensive items in separate incidents.
“At no time did Barneys personnel either request, advise, or otherwise imply that the (NYPD) stop or detain (the complaining customers),” the report said.
The New York Police Department has said that in both cases it took action against the shoppers after conferring with Barneys employees. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has said officers don’t just hang out at department stores but are there investigating crimes.
An NYPD spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the Barneys memo.
Rev. Al Sharpton issued a statement Wednesday saying the National Action Network is reviewing the memo.
“While it seems like a big move forward, we are reviewing the memo with the entire civil rights side of the Taskforce,” Sharpton said in a statement. “We certainly look forward to seeing if other retailers will make a similar commitment.”
“As we take another incremental step towards achieving equal protection Barneys has both demonstrated leadership but also acknowledged that they can no longer condone unfettered NYPD reign over their stores,” stated Kirsten John Foy, Chairman of National Action Network. “We now work towards achieving additional progress, with Barneys and more importantly across the entire retail industry in eliminating racial profiling once and for all.”
Sharpton has previously met with Barneys chief executive officer Mark Lee following the alleged racial profiling incidents.
Lee issued an apology after the meeting saying, “No one — I mean, no individual — should go through the unacceptable experiences described by Trayon Christian and Kayla Phillips in recent media reports.”
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