By: Annie Wu
Back in April 27, 2013, a young black male named Trayon Christian, was accused of debit card fraud after purchasing a $349 Salvatore Ferragamo belt in Barney’s New York, and has recently been given a $45,000 settlement from the city. Nick Paolucci, who is a spokesman for New York City’s law department told Reuters that, “Settling was in the best interest of the city.”
Christian, who was only eighteen years old at the time, was followed by undercover security that stopped him and demanded to know how he could afford such an expensive and luxurious belt. He was then handcuffed, and held in custody for two hours while his credit card company confirmed that the card was indeed his. He then sued the city and the retailer on the grounds that his civil rights were violated.
In 2014, Barney’s reached a $525,000 settlement with New York State Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman. Barney’s also agreed to hire an anti-profiling consultant, to fix their policies, and to set up monitoring systems to avoid issues like this in the future.
After Trayon Christian raised his voice on the racial profiling issue and his case became known to the public, another black customer, Kayla Philips, said she was a victim of racial profiling by the retailer as well. She came forward saying that in February 2013, after she purchased a $2,500 Celine bag from Barney’s, she was stopped by police officers on the subway and interrogated.
According to Reuters, protests have been organized by civil rights groups to boycott the retailer, saying that the two customers were being discriminated against because of their race.
Overall, this case sheds light on the issue of racial discrimination and how it is still an issue in society today. This is not the first time that people have been victimized by racial profiling, however, with people coming forward and sharing their stories, the issue can resolved and efforts can be made to avoid future incidents.
Photo: Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images