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Racial Profiling Occurs at High-End Stores, Prompts Lawsuits

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When Trayon Christian, a young black college student in New York City, saw a Ferragamo belt he liked on TV, he decided to head to the luxury department store, Barney’s, to purchase it. He paid for the $350 belt with his debit card and left the store. After only walking down the streets for a few minutes, he was detained by two undercover cops. Security guards had given a “tip” to police that they thought the purchase was suspicious.

Around the same time, a young black woman, Kayla Phillips, purchased a $2,000 designer handbag from Barney’s. The woman was frisked, searched and eventually detained by police. Yet again, the security guards misinformed the cops.

Both apprehensions came as a result of Barney’s implementing stricter “security” measures due to a rise in thefts at the store.  The luxury retailer is being criticized and sued (by the two young adults mentioned above) for unnecessary racial profiling of black and Hispanic shoppers. Christian filed a suit against the store and Phillips field a notice of intent to sue.

In addition to Barney’s, Macy’s at Herald Square in New York has been accused of racial profiling as well. The store unnecessarily stopped two black shoppers—one of which happened to be actor Robert Brown. This isn’t new for Macy’s—in 2005, the store made an agreement with the state attorney general’s office to change its security practices because black and Hispanic shoppers were stopped significantly more often than any other shoppers.

Why is racial profiling still happening in this day and age? Should the two young shoppers win their lawsuits? Let us know your thoughts. 

Posted by Jamie Friedlander on Oct 30, 2013


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