Barneys Apologizes After Claims of Racial Profiling

After two black customers accused Barneys of racial profiling, the department store says it’s hiring a civil rights expert to review its practices and procedures.

In April 19-year-old Trayon Christian was stopped by two undercover officers after purchasing a $349 Salvatore Ferragamo belt with his debit card and ID.

After reports surfaced on Wednesday that he was suing the department store and the NYPD for unspecified damages, 21-year-old Brooklyn resident Kayla Phillips revealed that she had also been stopped by plainclothes cops when she purchased a $2,500 Céline bag.

After two confusing statements denying any involvement in the shop-and-frisk of the two shoppers, NBC New York now reports that Barneys New York CEO Mark Lee said the store has hired Michael Yaki, who serves on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, to lead a review of fairness and equality practices at the high-end department store. The store has also reached out to community leaders to ”begin a dialogue on this important issue.”

As a refresher, here’s the ambiguous excuse released on Wednesday and again on Thursday morning:

“Barneys New York typically does not comment on pending litigation.  In this instance, we feel compelled to note that 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. Barneys New York has zero tolerance for any form of discrimination and we stand by our long history in support of all human rights. We are very sorry that any customer of our store would have this experience”

At the same time, a petition has been launched at pressuring Jay Z to call off his upcoming Christmas collaboration with Barneys. Derick Bowers of Brooklyn, who has addressed the petition to Jay Z’s publisher Jana Fleishman and his manager Steven Arcieri, states:

Without [Jay-Z's] vast wealth and brand power, [Barneys] would see him the same as they see Trayon Christian [one of the two plaintiffs accusing Barneys of racial profiling]. Jay Z should be appalled by Barneys actions, and withdraw all support from them. If he does this, he will send a clear message to all corporations that are likeminded, that this behavior cannot be tolerated any longer.

The petition currently has 1,885 signatures and requires 615 more. The collaboration, called “A New York Holiday,” is slated to come out next month. And while Jay Z is yet to make comment, you can bet your limited edition Shawn Carter for Hoorsenbuhs double rings that he’s not spending his time laughing at Beyoncé memes.

Related links:
Shop and Frisk? Barneys Shopper Arrested for Being Black [Updated]
Another Black Shopper Arrested for Splurging at Barneys

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