NEW YORK Oct 26 New York's civil rights leaders
on Saturday angrily decried the city's brewing "shop-and-frisk"
scandal, in which two major retailers stand accused of profiling
black shoppers who say they were detained by police after buying
"We've gone from stop-and-frisk to shop-and-frisk," said
Reverend Al Sharpton, president of National Action Network,
alluding to a police crime-fighting tactic that critics say
amounts to racial profiling.
A Network representative is set to meet next week with Mark
Lee, the chief executive of Barneys New York, following
allegations from two black shoppers that they were detained by
New York police and accused of fraud after buying luxury items
In a third such allegation made this week, actor Rob Brown
of HBO's "Treme" told the New York Daily News on Friday that he
had been "paraded" through a midtown Mahattan Macy's in
handcuffs 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 of
others 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 to
Retailer Barneys New York publicly apologized this week, and
Macy's Inc said late on Friday that it is investigating Brown's
Police officials have said that grand larceny - which
includes shoplifting and credit card fraud - are top priorities
in midtown Manhattan's busy retail districts. An NYPD spokesman
was not immediately available to comment on Saturday.
Grand larceny accounts for more than 75 percent of all crime
in the precincts that cover the two retailers, according to New
York Police Department crime statistics.
Brooklyn nursing student Kayla Phillips, 21, said this week
that she was surrounded by four undercover police officers in
February after leaving Barneys with a $2,500 Celine handbag she
had purchased. She plans to sue, said her lawyer Kareem Vessup.
And Trayon Christian, 19, said he was detained for two hours
and questioned by New York police in April after buying a $349
Ferragamo belt at Barneys.
Christian filed a lawsuit against the store and the NYPD
this week, court records show. Brown filed a similar lawsuit
against Macy's on Friday, according to the Daily News.
Barneys posted an apology on its Facebook page late on
Thursday and said it was hiring civil rights attorney Michael
Yaki of San Francisco, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil
Rights, to review the store's practices and procedures.
At a weekly gathering at the Network headquarters on
Saturday, Sharpton said racially profiling shoppers is
"We are not going to live in a town where our money is
considered suspect and everybody else's money is respected," he
Neither Brown nor his attorney returned calls for comment
In 2005, Macy's paid $600,000 to settle similar allegations
that many of the chain's New York stores had targeted blacks and
Latinos for particular scrutiny of theft, according to the New
York Attorney General's office.
Grand larceny has risen 31.6 percent over the last two years
in the NYPD's Midtown North precinct, which includes Macy's
flagship store in Herald Square. It is up nearly 4 percent in
the Upper East Side's 19th precinct, which includes Barneys New