Online petition asks Jay Z to withdraw support from Barneys amid allegations of racism

Two African-Americans have reported that the NYPD harassed them for making purchases from the luxury store

By Prachi Gupta

Published October 25, 2013 7:37PM (EDT)

An online petition is asking rapper Jay Z to pull his fashion line from luxury department store Barneys New York following two reported incidents of alleged racial discrimination this week.

On Tuesday, 19-year-old Trayon Christian, an African-American man, purchased a $349 Ferragamo belt from the store and reports that two undercover NYPD detectives handcuffed and questioned him outside the store. On Wednesday, 21-year-old Kayla Phillips came forward with a report that in February, cops demanded to see an ID after she left the store with a $2,500 designer bag. They also accused her of using a fraudulent card, according to Phillips. Both reports bear strong resemblance to the NYPD's controversial stop-and-frisk policy, which has been declared unconstitutional.

The petition, called "Barneys New York Slaves," states, "Barneys lacks any connection with the black and hip-hop community. And without his vast wealth and brand power, they would see him the same as they see Trayon Christian. Jay Z should be appalled by Barneys actions, and withdraw all support from them. If he does this, he will send a clear message to all corporations that are likeminded, that this behavior cannot be tolerated any longer."

Barneys CEO Mark Lee has apologized for the reports, saying, "no customer should have the unacceptable experience." In response, Barneys has also hired Michael Yaki, who serves on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, to review the store's policies and procedures.

Jay Z has not yet responded to the controversy; his fashion line arrives in Barneys Nov. 20.

Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Barneys Jay-z New York Racial Profiling Racism Stop-and-frisk