‘Bill of Rights’ to Fight ‘Shopping While Black’ Outrages

The list of shoppers’ rights will be posted at New York City retailers in response to a rash of racial-profiling claims by black shoppers who purchased high-priced items. 

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Art Palmer stands in front of the Macy’s store that he claims accused him of stealing several items that he’d purchased.

The Daily News via Getty Images

On Monday, retail executives and civil rights leaders met to hash out a shopper's "bill of rights," New York’s Daily News reports.

The list of rules—created after a rash of racial-profiling incidents in which black shoppers claimed that they were arrested, accosted or both after making purchases at Barneys New York and Macy’s—was created to help inform shoppers about their rights under the law.

The Rev. Al Sharpton told the Daily News that the rules, which will be posted on retailers' websites and inside stores this week, will hopefully prevent the harassment of black customers whose only apparent crime was to purchase an expensive item.   

"The meeting was positive, but it's nowhere near where we hope to end up. At least now we're having an acknowledgment that there's a problem. So it is a step in the right direction, but we're not home yet," the civil rights leader said.

According to the Daily News, stores have agreed to post a bill of rights informing customers that profiling and unreasonable searches are prohibited. The list also states that if a store employee is caught profiling a customer, that person will be disciplined or fired.

Sharpton told the Daily News that the civil rights group was hoping to sit down with incoming Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who takes over for current police chief Raymond Kelly in January.

"We will have to sit in the room with him and the retailers, and we hope to do that in the next few days, I'm not talking about weeks ... We want to have an agreement with him coming in," Sharpton said.

The Daily News first reported the racial-profiling scandal after 19-year-old Trayon Christian said that he was arrested and detained after purchasing a $350 Salvatore Ferragamo belt from Barneys. Shortly after Christian's claim, Kayla Phillips, 21, alleged that police harassed her after she purchased a $2,500 orange suede Céline bag from Barneys.

But Barneys wasn't the only retail store to feel the heat: Macy's would be accused of racial profiling by two black shoppers. Actor Rob Brown, 29, and Art Palmer, 56, a personal trainer, both said that cops stopped them after they'd shopped at the department store.

Both department stores deny racially profiling customers and blamed an aggressive police department for stopping the shoppers. It is for this reason that Sharpton believes meeting with the NYPD is paramount.

"The meeting has to be about where does [the] NYPD take charge and where do stores take charge and who's doing the profiling? And where are the boundaries? Who decides who's a suspect?" he told the Daily News.

Read more at the Daily News.

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