Iowa Man Says He Was Racially Profiled by Old Navy Employees Who Didn’t Believe He Purchased the Jacket He Walked Into the Store Wearing

An Old Navy employee rescans James Conley III’s already-purchased jacket (James Conley III via Facebook)
An Old Navy employee rescans James Conley III’s already-purchased jacket (James Conley III via Facebook)

A black man from Iowa is accusing employees at the West Des Moines Old Navy of racial profiling after he says they didn’t believe that he had already purchased the jacket he walked into the store wearing.

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James Conley III shared a picture and four videos on his Facebook page Tuesday evening, expressing his frustration and disbelief at what happened to him.

“Today I was racially profiled by the Old Navy store in West Des Moines, Iowa in Jordan creek. I was accused that I didn’t pay for my blue bubble jacket that I got for Christmas that I wore into the store. As I was checking out to purchase some hoodies, I was asked if I wanted to also purchase the jacket that I was wearing. First, I started laughing because I didnt believe what I was hearing. The store manager Beau Carter was very unprofessional and stereotyped me because I was a Black male,” Conley wrote in his post, which has been shared more than 100,000 times as of 7:47 a.m. EST.

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Conley described how the manager claimed that “anytime someone wears Old Navy clothing they have to always scan that customer’s clothing to ensure that it was previously purchased,” while also expressing his disbelief, since he’d never witnessed that; nor had he ever been asked to verify his purchase before.

Apparently, once the workers scanned the jacket, they tried to make him repay for the item, but he refused. Finally, the district manager, identified only as Shannon because she refused to give Conley her last name, checked the surveillance footage at Conley’s request.

“Once she confirmed that I was telling the truth (after watching the tape) she never came back out to apologize to me nor did the store manager Beau Carter as you can see in my videos below,” Conley said in wrapping up his post.

In the aforementioned videos, you can see the employees rescanning Conley’s jacket as they speak among themselves.

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Eventually, as the employees realize how racist they were how wrong they were, instead of offering an apology, they seem to get angrier. One man demands that Conley stop recording him. Another employee comes over and tells Conley that they had a no-recording policy in the store (convenient, innit?).

“This is like super ridiculous,” Conley says in one of the videos. “Literally just got stereotyped because of the color of my skin. They think I stole my jacket that I walked in with.”

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According to the Des Moines Register, Conley, 29, declined to speak out further publicly until he consulted with legal representation. Later Wednesday, the Register confirmed that Conley was being represented by attorneys Brandon Brown and Alfredo Parrish.

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“We have already sent out preservation demand letters and we plan on investigating into this case,” Brown said.

As for the Old Navy, on Wednesday, there were signs taped up on the front doors indicating that the store was temporarily closed. No other information—including why it was closed and when it would reopen—was given.

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A spokesperson for Old Navy, Liz Nunan, told the Register that Gap Inc. (which owns Old Navy) and all of its brands maintain a “zero means zero” policy when it comes to racial profiling and indicated that the incident was being investigated on their end.

“We are a company made up of diverse people—from all backgrounds and cultures,” Nunan told the news site. “We encourage diversity in thought, celebrate diversity in each other, and demand tolerance and inclusion, always.”

News Editor at The Root, animation nerd, soca junkie, yogi

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DISCUSSION

This is infuriating on so many levels.

*If he had been greeted when he entered and someone had seen anything past “Black Male” they’d have seen he entered w/ the jacket.

*What the fuck is scanning the jacket gonna do other than bring up the item for sale. Product barcodes do not contain a particular store’s running inventory, nor sales data. Even if they counted all their coats in X size and found some missing, prove HE took it.

*DM is an unprofessional asshole. Thanks for checking the tape before Police shot someone, but why play games and not give your name?

*He needed a couple apologies and a (at least $25) gift card for the offensive inconvenience. I’d be surprised if the DM couldn’t authorize that.

*So far as I know “No Recording Policies” affect employees, not customers. It’s an Old Navy, not Area 51. Laws requiring the consent of all parties to record apply to confidential conversations, not public accusations of theft.

*Fuck these people.