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“Racial Profiling” Shopping While Black

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Power Talk with Lorraine Jacques-White
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On PowerTalk with Lorraine Jacques-White today we had an amazing show, what really got our audience engaged in conversation was the controversal topic regarding several Black American New York shopper, pointing at Macy’s and Barney’s , who were making racial profiling allegations. Art Palmer says four plainclothes cops questioned him three blocks away from the flagship store after he bought $320 worth of Polo dress shirts and ties. The latest accusation echoes those by Trayon Christian and Kayla Phillips against Barneys and by actor Robert Brown against the same Macy’s.

Another department store customer came forward Sunday with the fourth “shopping while black” complaint in a week — a customer who says he was surrounded by cops after a legitimate purchase at Macy’s Herald Square in New York.

In an eerie echo of the three prior allegations of racial profiling last week, Art Palmer said four plainclothes cops questioned him just three blocks away from the flagship store after he bought $320 worth of Polo dress shirts and ties April 24.

Palmer, a 56-year-old exercise trainer from Crown Heights, Brooklyn, said he made the purchase without incident, using both his Macy’s platinum card and his American Express card.

He was walking to a gym on Park Ave. when police surrounded him and demanded to see his ID. The officers said they were suspicious because they had lost sight of him on the store’s surveillance cameras, he said.

“The reason why we stopped you was because you were standing in an area at Macy’s where we could not see you,” one of the officers said, Palmer told reporters Sunday.

When asked if he believed he was racially profiled, he said, “There was no other reason.”

He was allowed to continue on his way after he showed his receipt for the duds and the cards with which he purchased them.

When Palmer returned to the store the next day to complain, a Macy’s manager blamed it on the cops and said officers frequently come into the store to monitor surveillance videos without permission, according to Palmer.

Palmer said a lieutenant at the midtown South stationhouse told him the officers “were just doing their jobs.”

Frustrated by that response, Palmer filed a grievance with the Civilian Complaint Review Board.

The NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau is also investigating, Deputy Chief Kim Royster said Sunday.

The case is similar to claims made by two other black patrons at Barneys and another African-American at Macy’s — all of whom said they were targeted by cops after making pricey credit card purchases.

Last week, actor Robert Brown said he was paraded through Macy’s Herald Square store in handcuffs and detained for an hour after being racially profiled and accused of using a stolen credit card to buy his mother a $1,350 watch June 8.

Brown, one of the stars of HBO show “Treme,” was released after being in cuffs for about 45 minutes without any charges. He’s suing the store and the NYPD, charging cops racially profiled him and violated his constitutional rights.

On Sunday, a store spokesman blamed that incident on the NYPD.

“Macy’s personnel were not involved in Mr. Brown’s detention or questioning,” spokeswoman Elina Kazan said. “This was an operation of the New York City Police Department.”

But the store admitted it allowed the officers to use a room inside the store to detain Brown.

Brown said he was inspired to publicize his case by Trayon Christian, the 19-year-old who is suing Barneys as a result of being detained by cops after using his debit card to buy a $349 Salvatore Ferragamo belt at the store in April. He was released without charges.

The following day another black Barneys shopper, Kayla Phillips, 21, said she was also accused of credit card fraud after she bought a $2,500 designer bag Feb. 28.

On Sunday, civil rights attorney Norman Siegel cited The News’ coverage of those cases and urged the city’s Human Rights Commission to investigate whether there’s a larger problem of “racial profiling at New York City stores.”

He says he wants the commission to review what role the NYPD has played in the confrontations.

“Each of these cases raises very substantive and serious questions,” Siegel told reporters before detailing the Palmer case. “New Yorkers need to know that violations of the human rights law are simply unacceptable.”

A commission spokeswoman said the request would be reviewed.

Macy’s also came under fire in 2005 after an investigation by then-state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer alleged that the chain’s New York department stores profiled customers based on race, and handcuffed and detained those suspected of shoplifting. The retailer paid $600,000 to settle a complaint.

As part of that deal, store officials had vowed to appoint an internal security monitor and train employees not to discriminate against patrons

Take A Listen To The News Coverage:

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