For months, Trayon Christian — a 19-year-old Black college student from Queens — set aside money from a part-time job to buy a $349 designer belt from Barneys New York.1 But in April, as he exited the luxury department store with both the belt and his receipt he was swarmed by undercover cops, peppered with questions, handcuffed and locked in a jail cell.2 While providing several forms of identification to match his debit card, police taunted Trayon with questions like “How could you afford a belt like this?” “Where did you get this money from?”3
Barneys issued a vague statement, disclaiming responsibility for Trayon’s arrest, but more than 47 arrests have been made outside of the Madison Ave. store — hinting at the possibility of a dedicated NYPD task force.4 The public has a right to know the racial breakdown of the suspects arrested, how many were actually charged with a crime, and what role the luxury department store played in these arrests.
Join us in demanding that the NYPD immediately conduct a full investigation of the arrests made outside of Barneys. We’ll also send this message to senior executives at Barneys to remind them that the practice of profiling Black customers is unacceptable. It only takes a moment.
Clearly Trayon isn’t the only Black person who has been stopped by NYPD after an expensive purchase at this particular store. Just a day after Trayon filed his complaint, 21-year-old Kayla Phillips has come forward and claims that she too was surrounded by undercover cops just blocks from the Manhattan store who pushed her up against the wall after she purchased a designer handbag with her debit card.5
Unfortunately Black folks are too often subjected to this brand of deeply offensive and humiliating treatment by security guards and police officers at the businesses we patronize. And in recent years, the NYPD has become notorious for targeting Black and Latino residents — subjecting our communities to thousands of illegal stops, searches, and frisks each day that lead to unlawful arrests, constant harassment, and in some cases, serious injury or death.6,7
Enough is enough. In order to end the culture of police misconduct and racial profiling we must demand accountability for these discriminatory practices. Will you sign this petition today and forward it to your family and friends?
Thanks and Peace,
–Rashad, Arisha, Matt, Aimée, William, Hannah and the rest of the ColorOfChange team. October 25th, 2013
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1. “Barneys accused teen of using fake debit card for $349 belt because he’s a ‘young black American male’:lawsuit,” New York Daily News, 10-22-13 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/3044?t=7&akid=3175.1689899.3LyxQO
2. “Trayon Christian Complaint,” New York City Clerk, 10-21-13 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/3045?t=9&akid=3175.1689899.3LyxQO
3.See Reference 1
4. “Another black Barneys shopper accused of credit card fraud after buying $2,500 purse: claim,” New York Daily News, 08-10-13 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/3046?t=12&akid=3175.1689899.3LyxQO
5.See Reference 4
6. “Judge approves class action lawsuit over NYPD’s stop-and-frisk searches,” The Raw Story, 05-16-12 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/1636?t=14&akid=3175.1689899.3LyxQO
7. “After Detective’s Firing, Tensions Linger in Sean Bell Case,” New York Times, 03-25-12 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/3047?t=16&akid=3175.1689899.3LyxQO