Barneys Protesters Threaten to Return

Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

On Wednesday, Brooklyn pastor Clinton Miller led a small demonstration in front of Barneys New York's Madison Avenue flagship to express solidarity with two black shoppers who accused the store of racial discrimination. Waving signs and shouting "no shop and frisk" over a dozen picketers, Miller delivered a letter addressed to Barneys CEO Mark Lee, who did not make an appearance. According to Reuters, the group said that they would give Lee two days to respond, although their exact demands were not made clear.

Lee has reiterated several times that Barneys does not tolerate racial discrimination of any kind, and stated Tuesday that the New York Police Department is to blame for the detainment of the two shoppers after they purchased designer items at the store. (After all, it was the NYPD who detained them on the street.) "No one from Barneys brought them to the attention of our internal security," Lee said, "and no one from Barneys reached out to external authorities." 

Meanwhile, Macy's is in equally hot water: Actor Rob Brown and fitness trainer Art Palmer are both pressing charges of discrimination after they were detained and questioned for buying expensive items (a Movado watch and $320 worth of shirts and ties, respectively). Like Barneys, a Macy's spokesperson insisted their staff had nothing to do with either incident.

But the NYPD won't take these accusations lying down. Spokesman John McCarthy said that in both incidents at Barneys, as well as the one involving Brown at Macy's, NYPD officers acted on tips provided by store security (the Palmer case is still being investigated). So, lots of finger-pointing, but no real answers.