This July 26, 2013 file photo shows the Rev. Al Sharpton gestures as he takes part in a panel discussion during the National Urban League’s annual conference in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
by Karen Matthews
Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — The Rev. Al Sharpton threatened Saturday to boycott luxury retailer Barneys if the department store doesn’t respond adequately to allegations by Black shoppers that they were racially profiled there.
“We’ve gone from stop and frisk to shop and frisk, and we are not going to take it,” the Black civil rights leader said. “We are not going to live in a town where our money is considered suspect and everyone else’s money is respected.”
Two Black Barneys New York customers, Trayon Christian and Kayla Phillips, said last week they were detained by police after making expensive purchases.
Christian sued Barneys, saying he was accused of fraud after using his debit card to buy a $349 Ferragamo belt in April.
Barneys said Thursday that 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.”
Kirsten John Foy, an official with Sharpton’s National Action Network, said he would meet with Barneys officials on Tuesday to discuss the racial profiling allegations.
“The only theft that took place at Barneys was Barneys’ stealing the dignity of these young people,” said Foy, who joined Sharpton at his weekly rally at the organization’s Harlem headquarters.
Sharpton said Black New Yorkers should put shopping at Barneys “on hold” if the retailer’s response is inadequate.
The profiling claims also incited criticism on Twitter and an online petition asking rapper Jay-Z, who’s collaborating with the luxury retailer for a holiday collection, to disassociate from it.
Macy’s was also hit with a lawsuit alleging racial profiling last week.
A Black actor on the HBO drama series “Treme” said Friday he was stopped by police because of his race while shopping at Macy’s flagship Manhattan store.
Robert Brown said in his lawsuit that he was detained by police June 8 after employees contacted authorities about possible credit card fraud.
Macy’s didn’t comment on the litigation but said in a statement it was investigating.
Some Sharpton supporters who attended Saturday’s rally said they had been profiled in stores, too.
Shane Lee, 51, said he went to the high-end store Bergdorf Goodman to buy shirts last year and the sales staff would not assist him.
“Instead of helping me, they were staring at me,” said Lee, who is Black. “I felt so uncomfortable that I just left.”
A Bergdorf Goodman official did not return a call seeking comment Saturday.