The more the Barneys racial profiling story evolves, the more "wtf!" moments there are. The latest development is chock full of them.
The New York Times is reporting that, several months ago, Barneys created a system and strategy to stop a recent rash of theft that had resulted in a significant loss of inventory. According to the Times, a new security management team was put in place, and they "instituted a more aggressive loss prevention strategy."
Security personnel at the store told the Times "they were encouraged to 'take chances' in stopping suspicious customers, even if it meant intercepting innocent people. Bad grabs, they said they were told, were part of the business."
If a security worker thought a shopper was commiting theft or credit card fraud, they contacted the New York Police Department. Soon after the new policy was put in place, contact with the NYPD "soon jumped dramatically."
Now, two of these "bad grabs" have come forward to accuse Barneys of racially profiling them. Trayon Christian and Kayla Phillips have both come forward after being subjected to what's become known as a "shop-and-frisk" policy for each made an expensive purchase in the Madison Avenue flagship Barneys.
Yesterday, Barneys CEO Mark Lee met with Reverend Al Sharpton and other civil rights activist and community leaders and issued an apology to the two black shoppers. Lee also apologized to Jay Z, but claimed Barneys never racially profiled or contaced the NYPD in the the Christian and Phillips cases. According to Lee, “No one from Barneys brought them to the attention of our internal security, and no one from Barneys reached out to external authorities."
The report from the Times disputes this, as does the NYPD. In both the Christian and Phillips cases, “NYPD officers were conducting unrelated investigations and took action based on information brought to their attention by Barneys employees while in the security room,” said John J. McCarthy, the department’s chief spokesman.
The security management team that was in charge of implementing the more aggresive policy was headed up by Raymel Cardona and Aaron Argueta. Both were fired from Barneys (it's unclear when), and both are planning to challenge their dismissals. Barneys, meanwhile, is disputing the claims of these two. A spokesperson said Argueta was fired for installing a “bed and workout barbell in a company closet and sleeping on the job in the store multiple times.” Cardona was also "fired for cause."
[via New York Times]