This is a meeting that must happen.

Rev. Al Sharpton plans to meet with Mark Lee, CEO of Barney’s New York, on Tuesday to discuss allegations that two black shoppers were racially profiled inside Barney’s and then detained by police before being cleared of wrongdoing and released.

There were no apologies, no explanations, no remorse.

“In major cities like New York, blacks and Latinos not only worry about being “stopped-and-frisked” by police, but they also fear the embarrassment of being “shopped-and-frisked” in retail stores,” Sharpton wrote in The New York Daily News. “In other words, minorities are sent a shameful message that no matter what they are doing, they are guilty until proven innocent.”

“Imagine walking into a store, finding something you like and making the purchase only to be stopped, interrogated, searched, handcuffed and locked in a cell simply because someone didn’t believe you could afford the item,” Sharpton wrote.

According to Sharpton’s spokesperson, Rachel Noerdlinger, the meeting between Sharpton and Lee will take place at the National Action Network headquarters in Harlem.

Sharpton wants to hear directly from Lee about two high-profile racial incidents that have received national attention.

Trayon Christian, 19, has filed a discrimination lawsuit against Barneys, saying police targeted him in April because they didn’t think he could afford a $350 Ferragamo belt. He was stopped a block from the store by undercover detectives who held him in a jail cell for two hours before releasing him after they verified his credit card.

“It makes me look at stuff very different based on my race,” Christian told a New York radio station.

In the second incident at Barney’s, Kayla Phillips, 21, told the New York Daily News and the New York Post she was surrounded by police officers after she left the store in February having purchased a $2,500 Celine handbag. She said they demanded to know why she used a debit card without a name on it.

Phillips explained it was a temporary card, and after showing police identification and a new debit card, they released her.

“What is the collusion between the NYPD and your security that four blocks away from the store, the NYPD stops somebody that bought something in your store?” Sharpton wrote.

Meanwhile, some black activists are putting pressure on hip-hop mogul Jay-Z to pull out of a clothing partnership with Barney’s. Critics want Jay-Z to dissolve his association with the high-end clothing store in the wake of the racial profiling allegations.

But Sharpton said Jay-Z should not be vilified.

“Some people want to make this about Jay-Z,” Sharpton said. “No, this is about Barneys first.”

Breaking his silence on the situation, Jay-Z released a statement Monday saying his collaboration with Barney’s is about his foundation, not about amassing personal wealth.

“I am not making a dime from this collection; I do not stand to make millions, as falsely reported,” Jay-Z said. “This money is going to help individuals facing socio-economic hardships to help further their education at institutions of higher learning. My idea was born out of creativity and charity… not profit.”

And responding to the racial profiling allegations, Jay-Z added:

“I move and speak based on facts and not emotion,” he said. “I haven’t made any comments because I am waiting on facts and the outcome of a meeting between community leaders and Barneys. Why am I being demonized, denounced and thrown on the cover of a newspaper for not speaking immediately?”

Give Jay-Z a break. He doesn’t deserve to be criticized for trying to help disadvantaged Americans through his non-profit foundation.

What do you think?

(Photo: AP)

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14 thoughts on “ANALYSIS: Sharpton Defends Jay-Z; Will Meet With Barney’s CEO

  1. james mcghee on said:

    People stop trying to demonizing Al Sharpton about speaking out on racial issues. One commenter said that he should be dead. If he should die today, there would be another to take his place. The only way you will stop people and voices like Rev Al’s is to stop be racist and try placing yourself in the
    place of a minority. We are not the problem, the majority is the PROBLEM.

  2. Wait one friggin minute! Why is Jayz being blasted about his connection with Barney’s?! Why know the designers Ferragamo and Celine! They are the ones that should be directed appalled that fans/customers who buy their clothing/accessories are treated in the manner of these two customers!!! Why aren’t they being asked to pull their lines from Barney’s?!?!

    • Cris very good point!!! I say stop shopping with these mofos all together. Why buying this OVER-PRICED crap makes (some) people feel good is beyond me. It’s sad that (some) people base their status in life on some designer item. Warped priorities for sure. It doesn’t impress me one way, or another if someone has on a $350 belt, or carries a $2,500 purse. In fact my first thought is….you’re stupid

  3. My immediate reaction is ‘why would Barney’s let a suspected fraudulent credit card transaction go through’?! This is more of a message to people who shop at the store. This says to me, that someone could actually walk into a Barney’s store and use my (or anyone elses) stolen credit card and Barney’s allow the transaction to go through. Then I would have to fight with my credit card company to get the charge removed, etc. How difficult would it have been to ask for an id at the time of the sale?! (I have, ‘check for i.d. written on the signature line on the back of my credit card!) I suspect Barney’s practice is ‘make the sale first’! Barney’s has questions to answer on their actions on the front end as well as after the sale was made.

  4. RENO2AC on said:

    We all know that this has been going on for years. I live in a small “midwestern” town, and I can’t tell you how many times I have had to “clock” a salesperson about following me around. Sometimes I would ignore it, and some days I didn’t feel like ignoring it. I would also start following that person around. Sure would. Remedy the situation, I stopped shopping in those stores. It may not send them into bankruptcy, but it sure gives me peace of mind. Also, folks are grown and can do what they want to do, but I don’t want a college student paying $350 for a belt (Michael Jordan your daddy?), or $2,500 for a purse (Oprah your auntie?). Folks, we have got to teach our children better.

  5. I think these allegations should be investigated and i dont think jay z should jump to conclusions. But i do want to know did barneys create this collaboration with him to some how compensate the community for their wrong doing?. If so i will say to that all money is not good money. Some people in the world me included are perfectly ok with what we have as long as the core principles in life have been upheld; meaning we look ourselves in the mirror. I hope jay zdoes the right thing. I like him as a person. The internet has given alot of people a voice, and not always a deserving one. He can not respond to everything. He is still a person. We dont own jay z. He can and should speak in his own time without being bullied or pressured into it.

  6. Some peolple have a habit of speaking out on stuff like this before all the facts are in. We speak in emotion, jump to conclusions & get others stirred up with our antics. I respect Jay Z for holding off first, getting the fact and meeting with the people. Acting in emotion can be wasted energy and oftentimes makes a situation worse. Lets see what Jay Z has to say AFTER this meeting and all of the facts come in.

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