Black Teen Falsely Arrested After Buying Designer Belt at Barneys

Illustration for article titled Black Teen Falsely Arrested After Buying Designer Belt at Barneys

A college student was wrongly arrested for credit card fraud shortly after purchasing a $320 Ferragamo belt at Barneys on Madison Avenue because staffers of the luxury store, as well as police, didn't believe he could actually afford a designer belt so expensive. He is suing Barneys and the NYPD, claiming he was racially profiled.


In April, Trayon Christian—a 19-year-old student studying engineering at the New York City College of Technology—saved up money from his part-time job to buy the Ferragamo belt that he had seen on some of his favorite celebrities. He paid for the belt with his debit card, and presented the salesclerk with ID when asked.

He got about a block away from the store before he was approached by two plainclothes police offers, who had been tipped off by the Barneys clerk. According to Christian, the officers asked to see his ID, wanted to know if he had a job, and repeatedly asked questions like, "How could you afford a belt like this? Where did you get this money from?"


Though he provided the officers with multiple forms of ID and answered their questions, Christian was cuffed and taken to a stationhouse where he says he was detained for two hours before they finally let him go with an apology.

Christian returned the belt to Barneys and vows never to shop there again. "It’s cruel. It’s racist," he told the New York Daily News.

Christian, who has no criminal record, has filed a lawsuit against the NYPD and Barneys for unspecified damages. "His only crime," said his lawyer, "was being a young black guy buying a $300 belt."

Barneys accused teen of using fake debit card for $349 belt because he's a ‘young black American male’: lawsuit [NY Daily News]

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Ari Schwartz: Dark Lord of the Snark

People: commenting on the cost of the belt or the look of the belt is really not important. Stop. It would be the same as if I got arrested after I bought a $300 video card at Fry's just because of my ethnicity. There are plenty of things that we can judge people for spending $300 on if we're dicks.

Let me list things I've spent $300 on so you can all judge me:

- A video card (it was really good at the time)

- A speaker (yes, one.)

- Headphones (still the best damn headphones I've ever purchased)

- Shoes

- Dinner for two at Daniel

- Half an iPad (I needed $300 more for the other half)

- A helicopter ride

- Extra slacks to go with a tailored suit

- An iPhone 5 w/ 32GB (yes, I use it all)

- A Galaxy Nexus (might have been $200, but whatever)

... and a whole lot of other things.

The point isn't what he bought. It was that he was harassed for buying it. By judging him for his purchasing behavior, you're still putting him in a shitty position. I spent TENS OF THOUSANDS of dollars buying a German car that I absolutely did not need (but I love). Imagine if the first thing I got afterward was a two hour detention by the cops because I'm not the right ethnicity.

Stop being dicks, for chrissake.