Macy's joins Barneys in brewing NYC 'shop-and-frisk' scandal

Reuters

NEW YORK, Oct 26 (Reuters) - New York's civil rights leaderson Saturday angrily decried the city's brewing "shop-and-frisk"scandal, in which two major retailers stand accused of profilingblack shoppers who say they were detained by police after buyingluxury items.

"We've gone from stop-and-frisk to shop-and-frisk," saidReverend Al Sharpton, president of National Action Network,alluding to a police crime-fighting tactic that critics sayamounts to racial profiling.

A Network representative is set to meet next week with MarkLee, the chief executive of Barneys New York, followingallegations from two black shoppers that they were detained byNew York police and accused of fraud after buying luxury itemsat Barneys.

In a third such allegation made this week, actor Rob Brownof HBO's "Treme" told the New York Daily News on Friday that hehad been "paraded" through a midtown Mahattan Macy's inhandcuffs in June, and held for an hour, after purchasing a$1,350 gold Movado watch for his mother.

Brown said he came forward after reading news accounts ofothers who had had similar experiences at Barneys.

Brown told the newspaper he "implored" cops to check his ID,but "they kept telling me, 'Your card is fake. You're going tojail.'"

Retailer Barneys New York publicly apologized this week, andMacy's Inc said late on Friday that it is investigating Brown'sallegations.

Police officials have said that grand larceny - whichincludes shoplifting and credit card fraud - are top prioritiesin midtown Manhattan's busy retail districts. An NYPD spokesmanwas not immediately available to comment on Saturday.

Grand larceny accounts for more than 75 percent of all crimein the precincts that cover the two retailers, according to NewYork Police Department crime statistics.

Brooklyn nursing student Kayla Phillips, 21, said this weekthat she was surrounded by four undercover police officers inFebruary after leaving Barneys with a $2,500 Celine handbag shehad purchased. She plans to sue, said her lawyer Kareem Vessup.

And Trayon Christian, 19, said he was detained for two hoursand questioned by New York police in April after buying a $349Ferragamo belt at Barneys.

Christian filed a lawsuit against the store and the NYPDthis week, court records show. Brown filed a similar lawsuitagainst Macy's on Friday, according to the Daily News.

Barneys posted an apology on its Facebook page late onThursday and said it was hiring civil rights attorney MichaelYaki of San Francisco, a member of the U.S. Commission on CivilRights, to review the store's practices and procedures.

At a weekly gathering at the Network headquarters onSaturday, Sharpton said racially profiling shoppers isintolerable.

"We are not going to live in a town where our money isconsidered suspect and everybody else's money is respected," hesaid.

Neither Brown nor his attorney returned calls for commentSaturday.

In 2005, Macy's paid $600,000 to settle similar allegationsthat many of the chain's New York stores had targeted blacks andLatinos for particular scrutiny of theft, according to the NewYork Attorney General's office.

Grand larceny has risen 31.6 percent over the last two yearsin the NYPD's Midtown North precinct, which includes Macy'sflagship store in Herald Square. It is up nearly 4 percent inthe Upper East Side's 19th precinct, which includes Barneys NewYork.

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