Protesters head for Barneys after black shoppers claim discrimination

Reuters

By Chris Francescani and Curtis Skinner

NEW YORK, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Picketers headed for theManhattan storefront of Barneys New York Inc onWednesday to express outrage over black customers' complaintsthat they were stopped by police after making luxury purchases.

Brooklyn pastor Reverend Clinton Miller said he would leadthe late afternoon picket line that comes as the state attorneygeneral is investigating security practices at Barneys andfellow retailer Macy's Inc.

Four black shoppers have said they were stopped and detainedin separate incidents at the two stores and later releasedwithout charges.

The two retailers and the New York Police Department tradedblame on Tuesday over the "shop and frisk" incidents, nicknamedby tabloids after the controversial "stop and frisk" policingtactic that has been ruled unconstitutional for targeting blacksand Hispanics.

Barneys and Macy's officials said police had acted on theirown, without input from store staff, in choosing to stopshoppers who included Rob Brown, a black actor with a role onthe HBO series "Treme."

On Tuesday, New York civil rights leader Al Sharpton metwith Barneys Chief Executive Officer Mark Lee, who said hisemployees had no part in two incidents at his stores.

"No one from Barneys brought them to the attention of ourinternal security," Lee said, "and no one from Barneys reachedout to external authorities."

Likewise, a Macy's spokeswoman denied that any staff memberhad a role in two incidents there.

Brown said he was handcuffed in June after purchasing a$1,350 gold Movado watch for his mother, the Daily Newsreported. In the other incident, Art Palmer, 56, an exercisetrainer, said he was surrounded by police in April after he usedhis credit card to buy $320 worth of shirts and ties.

NYPD chief spokesman John McCarthy countered those claims,saying that in both incidents at Barneys and the case involvingBrown at Macy's, officers were acting on information provided bystore security. The Palmer case is still under investigation,McCarthy said.

Barneys and the NYPD were named in a lawsuit filed last weekby Trayon Christian, a 19-year-old Queens student. The lawsuitsaid police had detained him in April for two hours after hebought a $349 Ferragamo belt.

New York's Civilian Complaint Review Board is investigatingallegations of improper police stops of Palmer and Brooklynnursing school student Kayla Phillips, 21, who said she wassurrounded by four undercover police officers in February afterleaving Barneys with a $2,500 Celine handbag she had bought.

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