- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The New York state attorney general has launched an investigation into the “shopping while black” complaints surrounding Barneys and Macy’s after four people have claimed to be victims of racial profiling at the popular retailers.

According to the New York Daily News, Eric Schneiderman’s office on Monday sent letters to both retailers seeking information on their policies for stopping, detaining and questioning customers “by race or national origin.” They have until Friday to comply.

“Attorney General Schneiderman is committed to ensuring that all New York residents are afforded equal protection under the law,” Kristen Clarke, who heads the AG’s civil rights bureau, wrote to Barneys CEO Mark Lee and Macy’s Chief Stores Officer Peter Sachse, the Daily News reported. “The alleged repeated behavior of your employees raises troubling questions about your company’s commitment to that ideal.”

“Barneys may be engaging in a potential pattern of unlawful racial profiling of customers,” Miss Clarke added, citing news reports of alleged racial discrimination at the stores.

Art Palmer, 56, filed a complaint after he said he was surrounded by NYPD on April 24 outside Macy’s Herald Square store after buying some shirts and ties, the Daily News reported Monday.

Actor Rob Brown, of the HBO show “Treme,” said he was handcuffed and detained for an hour on June 8 after being falsely accused of using a stolen credit card to buy a watch at Macy’s.

Trayon Christian, 19, sued Barneys after he said he was detained in April for using his debit card to buy a belt.

And Kayla Phillips, 21, said she was accused of credit card fraud after she bought a $2,500 designer bag at Barneys on Feb. 28.

None of the four was charged, the report said.

Rev. Al Sharpton, who has threatened a boycott of Barneys, had a “candid” meeting with Barney’s CEO Tuesday morning at the National Action Network in Harlem, he said.

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