November 07, 2013
By Deepti Hajela
The Rev. Al Sharpton said he and other civil rights leaders had a “brutally honest” meeting November 4 with the CEO of Macy’s over racial profiling, and demanded that the department store lay out how they will guarantee the practice doesn’t happen before the holiday shopping season begins.
The meeting with CEO Terry Lundgren follows an incident in which an actor on the HBO series “Treme” was detained by police after buying his mother a $1,350 Movado watch. Robert Brown filed a lawsuit last month after he said he was stopped inside Macy’s flagship Manhattan store last June because he is black.
Brown’s accusation came after two other black shoppers said they were racially profiled and detained by police after making expensive purchases at Barneys New York.
In a statement, Macy's said it doesn't tolerate discrimination of any kind and “considers its loss prevention policies to be among the very best and most progressive in the retailing industry.”
In the meeting with Sharpton, “the company reiterated its deep commitment to diversity and inclusion,” the statement said, adding that the company expressed its intention to hold itself to high standards in dealing with customers and law enforcement to provide the best shopping experience.
Sharpton, who met with the CEO of Barneys last week, said civil rights leaders felt “particularly offended” over allegations concerning Macy’s, citing a $600,000 settlement that Macy’s reached with the New York attorney general in 2005 over racial profiling complaints. The store had also agreed to change its security practices.
“This was a particularly biting meeting because we frankly resented having to come here again,” he said.
Sharpton said he was told by Macy’s executives that the store did not racially profile customers, and that Macy’s employees weren’t responsible for Brown being detained by police.
“Barneys said they didn’t make the call, Macy’s said they didn’t make the call,” Sharpton said. “Until they find the invisible man, we may recommend we be invisible in their stores.”
The New York Police Department disputes those accounts. Commissioner Ray Kelly has said it is standard practice for retailers to call police if they believe crimes have been committed.
Sharpton said Macy’s need to make it clear how they will guarantee profiling won’t happen, because “we are not going to go through the holidays and have people shop where they are going to be profiled.”
He said Macy’s had agreed to respond to his request by Wednesday. A Macy’s representative did not respond to an email to confirm the timeline.