Barneys Blames Cops for Profiling Black Shoppers

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A pedestrian walks past a window display at Barneys New York department store in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 22, 2009.
Photo: Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

It's been nothing but damage control for Barneys since two black shoppers came forward last week claiming they were asked how they could afford such nice things. (One was arrested; both are suing.) Today, the store's CEO Mark Lee, who is white, sat down with Al Sharpton to save face and shift blame. "Our preliminary investigation has concluded that in both of these instances no one from Barneys New York raised any issue with these purchases," said Lee, according to the New York Post. "No one from Barneys brought them to the attention of our internal security and no one from Barneys reached out to external authorities."

So you're saying the NYPD stopped black people on a whim?

"I can only speak to what we know from the preliminary investigation," Lee added. "We believe in the last week of our research that no Barneys employee was involved in these two instances."

Sharpton was tentative in his reaction. "If, in fact, NYPD takes it upon themselves to profile, that needs to be dealt with by retailers," he said. "If, in fact, there were rogue members in these department stores that have some collusion with members of NYPD that is not known to the heads of these companies, that ought to be dealt with by retailers." The police have their own, not unrelated dealing to do.