NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York’s civil rights leaders yesterday 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 luxury items.
“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 at Barneys.
In a third such allegation made, 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 jail.’”
Retailer Barneys New York publicly apologized this week, and Macy’s Inc said late on Friday that it is investigating Brown’s allegations.