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Posts Tagged ‘Barneys New York’

It’s Barney’s vs. the NYPD in Racial Profiling Scandal

barneys-ny-logo“Blame the cops” was our basic summary of Barney’s New York‘s damage control response to two lawsuits filed by black shoppers who were approached and, in one case, arrested after buying expensive items at the store.

The company appears to be doubling down on that strategy: yesterday CEO Mike Lee met with Rev. Al Sharpton, apologized to the affected parties (Jay-Z included) and said:

“Our preliminary investigation has concluded that in both of these instances no one from Barneys New York raised any issue with these purchases. No one from Barneys brought them to the attention of our internal security and no one from Barneys reached out to external authorities.”

Could you hear him spinning as you read that statement? From The New York Times today:

Security personnel said they were encouraged to “take chances” in stopping suspicious customers, even if it meant intercepting innocent people. Bad grabs, they said they were told, were part of the business. The number of contacts with the Police Department, made when security workers suspected a person had been shoplifting or engaging in credit card fraud, soon jumped drastically.

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Barney’s Can’t Wait to Discuss Racial Profiling with Al Sharpton

Barneys_30bus

Barney’s New York has a big problem on its hands.

Earlier this month, 19-year-old Trayon Christian was arrested after he purchased a $350 Salvatore Ferragamo belt from the high-end retailer before being released without charge. Then 21-year-old Kayla Phillips came forward to say that plainclothes cops “pushed [her] up against a wall” and questioned her at a subway station near the store after she purchased a $2,100 Celine handbag in February.

Both have hit Barney’s and the NYPD with lawsuits, but this isn’t necessarily a new development for the store. A recent Huffington Post story recalls a similar incident reported by a black Newsweek columnist way back in 1996: after being falsely accused of shoplifting, he went all the way up the store’s executive chain seeking an apology only to have members of the founder’s family tell him that it was his fault the clerk had made a mistake.

Barney’s culture may be a bit backward, but the store’s executives aren’t too disconnected to realize that it’s damage control time. Whether their efforts have been successful so far is up for debate—and a forthcoming holiday campaign starring Jay-Z and his new clothing line complicates the matter.

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