A big-ass tree isn’t the only noteworthy thing being put on show at Macy’s this Christmas. In response to multiple claims of racial profiling at major New York department stores, civil rights leaders including the Rev. Al Sharpton and retail executives have unveiled a ’bill of rights’ to protect customers from shop-and-frisk practices.
The one-page document was given final approval Monday morning during a press conference at Avenue Presbyterian Church, which including Sharpton, Ted Potrikus of the Retail Council of New York State, incoming comptroller Scott Stringer, and executives from department stores Barneys, Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman and Lord & Taylor. It will be displayed by department stores in the forthcoming days and must be highly visible to customers, available upon request, and clearly placed on store websites.
Stores will use internal tests to test compliance, and the regulations will take effect nationwide — not just in New York City. Employees who violate the code will be disciplined and could be fired.
“A person may be detained only in a reasonable manner and for not more than a reasonable time to permit investigation or questioning, provided an authorized employee has reasonable grounds to believe that the person so detained was guilty of criminal possession of an anti-security item or was committing or attempting to commit shoplifting on the premises,” it continues.
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. Prompted by that news, 21-year-old Kayla Phillips came forward with a disturbingly similar story in October, and a few days later actor Rob Brown of HBO‘s Treme filed a lawsuit against Macy’s on the grounds that he was “paraded” around in handcuffs after he bought a $1,350 Movado watch for his mother.
Brown remains unconvinced of the bill’s effectiveness. “I think it’s a marketing ploy,” said his lawyer John Elefterakis. “We don’t believe that this is a solution. We’re moving forward with our lawsuit.”
Do you think the bill is a step in the right direction or just an attempt to curry favor with press?