NEW YORK – Civil rights activist Al Sharpton met with the CEO of Barneys New York on Tuesday to discuss allegations of racial profiling after two black customers said they lawfully purchased items at the high-end retailer but were detained by police.
The New York state attorney general’s office demanded its own meeting with Barneys and also Macy’s, where a black actor said he was stopped because of his race while shopping.
Two customers accused Barneys of discrimination last week after they said they had lawfully purchased items but were detained by police on suspicion of credit card fraud.
“We had a very candid and open meeting today to begin a dialogue,” Sharpton said after the private meeting with Barneys CEO Mark Lee at Sharpton’s National Action Network office in Harlem.
The issue of racial profiling in stores has received much attention over the years. Oprah Winfrey complained recently that a Swiss clerk did not think she could afford a $38,000 handbag, and even President Barack Obama has said he was once followed in stores.
Lee said Barneys’ own initial investigation showed no employees were at fault in the two incidents, but he said the retailer does not tolerate discrimination and wants “to be part of the solution” to racial profiling.