New York State must investigate the role the NYPD is playing in a series of incidents in which black shoppers have been targeted for stops, searches and arrests at city department stores, according to a letter sent to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman by the New York Civil Liberties Union, National Action Network, NAACP and other civil rights leaders.
The NYCLU also prepared to testify on the issue at a hearing today before the New York City Council.
“Whether it’s in the streets of Brooklyn or the aisles at Barneys, the NYPD has no business stopping, harassing and even arresting people based on their race,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “The attorney general’s office must immediately expand its investigation beyond department stores and find out what role the NYPD is playing in the shop-and-frisk campaign.”
The state’s attorney general last month launched an investigation into security practices at Barneys and Macy’s after at least four customers came forward with allegations that they were unfairly targeted for police action while shopping in the stores. Since that time, Barneys and Macy’s have denied that their employees summoned the NYPD to investigate the shoppers. If those statements are true, it is the NYPD that has primary responsibility for the aggressive tactics to which the shoppers were subjected and it is the Police Department’s policies and practices that must be investigated.
“The attorney general’s leadership in addressing possible racial profiling at Macy’s and Barneys should be applauded,” Lieberman said. “But to fully understand the circumstances that led to these incidents and to prevent further profiling from occurring, the NYPD must also be thoroughly investigated.”
Click here to read the full letter sent to the attorney general, also signed by the New York Urban League, the Black Institute and the Rev. Joe Youngblood.