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Another Black Person Who Dared Shop at Barneys Stopped by Police

Illustration for article titled Another Black Person Who Dared Shop at Barneys Stopped by Police

Just a day after news broke of a lawsuit that alleges that earlier this year, undercover police arrested and detained a black teenager because a Barneys employee didn't believe he could afford a $350 belt, another black Barneys customer has claimed similar treatment. Barneys is apparently the department store equivalent of an 80's movie evil rich yacht riding villain couple who will soon get their comeuppance via a comical pie in the face at a fancy dinner party.

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The newest black person who cops don't think can afford to shop at Barneys is 21-year-old Kayla Phillips, who purchased a $2,500 Céline handbag in February. Phillips claims that as she was making her way back to the train, she was pounced on by 4 undercover officers who were responding to a call from a Barneys employee who couldn't help but notice that Phillips seemed awfully poor (black) to be shopping there. From the New York Post,

“They asked me why I used a debit card and why it didn’t have my name on it,” she said of her temporary Bank of America card.

A frightened Phillips called her mom, who told The Post cops had asked, “What are you doing here in Manhattan? Where’d you get the money to buy that expensive bag?”

Her mother, Wendy [Elie], said the police were clearly on the phone with a Barneys rep who was feeding them information about her daughter’s transaction.

When she showed police her ID and her new debit card, which had arrived in the mail that morning, they let her go.

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Phillips, like 19-year-old Trayon Christian, has filed a lawsuit in response to the incident.

Because Barney's deals with fraud all the time — who hasn't fielded a call from their bank's debit card fraud department where some joker tried to buy a $EXPENSIVE thing at Barney's or Saks or Moneytopia or wherever the rich folks are shopping these days? — law enforcement officials on a special anti-fraud task force are often in and around the store, according to the New York Daily News. But fraud prevention is not the same as "being fucking racist." Even if there was no racial motive behind the shakedowns of Phillips and Christian, fraud prevention should not look and feel to the people being investigated like racism. Because in this kind of thing, intent of the perpetrators doesn't matter.

Barneys denies any role in the police action in both incidents, and released the following statement,

Barneys New York typically does not comment on pending litigation. In this instance, we feel compelled to note that after carefully reviewing the incident of last April, it is clear that no employee of Barneys New York was involved in the pursuit of any action with the individual other than the sale. Barneys New York has zero tolerance for any form of discrimination and we stand by our long history in support of all human rights.

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If this were an 80's movie, this is the part where Barneys gets pie all over its monocle.

[NYPost]

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DISCUSSION

PopeAlexandersEternalSunshine
Pope Alexander

When I wore jeans and an oversized sweatshirt into a completely empty Chanel store, looking for a lipstick, I was treated like a criminal. As soon as I decided on a color, the woman who hadn't left my side the whole time took me by the arm to the cash register to make me pay immediately. I actually wanted some eyeshadow, but I guess that was off the menu. My money was worth less than the apparent "shame" of having a fat girl in jeans in their store.

High-end stores have got to remember that they're in the business of selling shit, not "screening" clients based on appearance, race or presumed financial standing.

It's one of the weirdest aspects of consumer culture — this idea that somehow the person who looks like they should be shopping there is treated better than the person who doesn't fit the image, yet may actually be willing to spend rather than just window shop.