Ayla Gursoy (pictured left), who filed the suit and is Muslim, claims she was detained and arrested at Macy’s Herald Square in September 2010. The suit contends that the store’s security guards use a code system, where African Americans are referred to as “10-90s” and Black women are referred to as “10-91s.” The code was allegedly created “to facilitate its targeting of Middle Eastern, African-American/Black and other non-White shoppers.”
In a partial deposition, store detective Brenda Howard admitted that “five arrests” per week was a target for security. Still, Howard couldn’t be reached for comment on the matter.
Watch a CBS report about the recent racial profiling allegations:
The lawsuit comes during a spate of racial profiling allegations against upscale N.Y.C department stores. Recently, 19-year-old Trayon Christian alleged he was arrested in April after purchasing a $350 designer belt from Barneys. Undercover cops reportedly stopped and asked him “how a young Black man such as himself could afford to purchase such an expensive belt.” Christian has since filed suit against the city and the department store.
A day after Christian filed his lawsuit, another Black customer came forth with a racial profiling allegation. Kayla Phillips told media outlets she was harassed by police after purchasing a $2,500 handbag from Barneys in February.
The Brooklyn Mom says cops surrounded her three blocks away at the Lexington Avenue and 59th Street subway station.
“There were three men and a woman,” she told the Daily News. “Two of them attacked me and pushed me against a wall, and the other two appeared in front of me, blocking the turnstile.”
They then reportedly began questioning her about her purchase and demanded to see her ID. “They were very rough,” the 21-year-old said. “They kept asking me what I bought and saying, ‘Show us your card.’ I didn’t know what was happening.”
Phillips also plans on filing a lawsuit against the city. This week, at a meeting between Rev. Al Sharpton’sNational Action Network and Barneys CEO Mark Lee, the department store denied playing a role in the incidents, pinning it on the NYPD.
“No one from Barneys brought them to the attention of our internal security and no one from Barneys reached out to external authorities,” Lee said.
The NYPD quickly countered back, contradicting Lee’s claims. “In both instances (Christian’s and Phillips’), officers were conducting unrelated investigations and took action based on information brought to their attention by Barneys’ employees while in the security room,” said John McCarthy, a spokesman for the department.
Sharpton believes at least one side isn’t being truthful. “Somebody in the NYPD and in these stores are discriminating,” he said. “Whether it is Barneys, Macy’s, Saks, Bergdorf Goodman or the corner store, we cannot live in a city where our consumer dollars are devalued based on the face of predisposed bias,”