Racial profiling associated with the "stop and frisk" policies utilized by the NYPD is undoubtedly one of New York City's worst kept and most poorly regarded secrets. And it's apparent that now, this unconstitutional stereotyping has extended beyond lower income neighborhoods, into Midtown Manhattan and one of the world's most famous upscale retailers, Barneys NY.
This morning, the New York Daily News reported how back on April 29th, Trayon Christian, a 19-year-old Queens resident, went to Barneys in search of a Ferragamo belt he coveted after seeing Juelz Santana wearing a similar model (why Trayon is still looking to Juelz for fashion advice is another story). Following his purchase of the $349 accessory and leaving the store, he was immediately apprehended, arrested and detained by two detectives who, after receiving a tip from a Barneys store clerk, assumed that Trayon's debit card was fake. In essence, they assumed that he—a young black man—couldn't possible have had the money to purchase the belt on his own. If that sounds like a completely unreasonable assumption, the two detectives were quoted asking Trayon, "How could you afford a belt like this? Where did you get this money from?" In fact, Trayon has a job and he gets paid for that job and he can use that money to buy ugly Ferragamo belts if he so chooses.
As you'd expect, Trayon is suing for what he went through, while at this time the specific amount of damages he is seeking is unknown. Sure, it's not completely fair to make the assumption that the store clerk who reported Trayon or for the detectives that detained him are bonafide racists, but the system in place used for apprehending young men suspected of crimes certainly seems skewed towards those of color, as do many luxury stores' methods for "loss prevention".
As of the time of writing this, Barneys has yet to respond to these allegations.
Update: After previously declining to comment to the New York Daily News, Barneys' Facebook page has been updated with the following, as attributed to a company spokesperson:
“Barneys New York typically does not comment on pending litigation. In this instance, we feel compelled to note that after carefully reviewing the incident of last April, it is clear that no employee of Barneys New York was involved in the pursuit of any action with the individual other than the sale. Barneys New York has zero tolerance for any form of discrimination and we stand by our long history in support of all human rights.”