The New York state attorney general is investigating Macy's Inc. and Barneys New York Inc after multiple allegations of racial profiling in which black customers say the New York City department stores targeted them because of their race.
The stores have until November 1 to submit information to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office concerning their policies on stopping and detaining customers, calling the police on suspicious customers, and policies on anti-discrimination and race, according to letters sent by the attorney general to Barneys Chief Executive Officer Mark Lee and Macy's Chief Stores Officer Peter Sachse.
"Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is committed to ensuring that all New York residents are afforded equal protection under the law. The alleged repeated behavior of your employees raises troubling questions about your company's commitment to that ideal," the letters read.
“There have been four claims in all. Two from Macy’s, two from Barneys,” reports CNN’s Nichelle Turner.
Macy’s is saying its employees weren’t involved in one of the incidents, and not commenting on the other, while Barneys is saying its employees weren’t involved in either of the incidents, that it was a police procedure, Turner explains.
But the police are saying they were alerted by store security and only got involved after that.
“So there’s a little bit of a ‘he-said-she-said’ nobody knows and who’s going to take the blame in this situation now that there’s been some legal action taken.”
Former NYPD Detective Harry Houck offers his insight, saying an arrest could not be made without a legitimate complaint from the store.
“You’ve got to have reasonable suspicion to stop somebody. You need probable cause.”
“Usually the store security will catch a shoplifter, or have a suspect in custody already, then call the police and patrol will respond, and they’ll make an arrest based on the security in that store,” he says.