Barneys Claims It Didn’t Racially Profile Shopper It Totally Racially Profiled

April 7, 2015 | Liam Mathews

In court documents filed this week, luxury retailer Barneys says it didn’t violate anyone’s civil rights by calling the police on a 20-year-old black man who bought an expensive belt from Barneys’ Madison Avenue flagship in 2013.

“At most, (Barneys) is merely alleged to have notified the NYPD of plaintiff’s purchase. Simply providing information to the police — even if subsequently found to be in error — does not subject the informant to liability for false arrest,” attorneys for Barneys wrote in the recently filed papers, the Daily News reports.

Here’s the thing, though: Trayon Christian had already paid for the belt when he was arrested. Barneys’ job is to sell clothes, not pass judgement on whether or not their customer’s money is ill-gotten. Unless Barneys is somehow culpable for knowingly accepting illegally obtained cash, which they couldn’t have known even if Christian had illegally obtained it, how is reporting a purchase to detectives even a policy? And even if Barneys’ staff didn’t profile Christian because he’s black, they profiled him because he’s young.

Barneys is arguing that, in the strictest sense, Christian had no repercussions from Barneys for being detained. He wasn’t charged, wasn’t questioned by Barneys staff before leaving the store, and wasn’t banned from shopping at Barneys in the future. They’re not saying they didn’t do it, they’re just saying it wasn’t a big deal. That’s like a bully saying “c’mon, did I knock you out?” when their victim is upset that they’ve been punched in the face.

To be fair, Barneys did enact a new policy after this incident that was meant to reduce racial profiling. Barneys additionally paid a settlement of $525,000 after the state Attorney General alleged that the retailer disproportionately targeted black and Latino shoppers.

(Photo: Phillip Pessar)