Another Black Woman Discriminated Against At Barney’s

Posted By Urban News Hour | October 24, 2013

Four plainclothes cops accused a black woman of credit card fraud after the Brooklyn mom bought a $2,500 designer bag from Barneys — stoking a fresh round of outrage against the high-end store.

21 year old Kayla Phillips, a nursing student from Canarsie, Brooklyn, said she had long coveted the orange suede Céline bag. Armed with an infusion of cash from a tax return, she took her Bank of America debit card and headed to the Madison Ave. flagship store on Feb. 28.
Kayla Phillips

Phillips made the purchase without incident, but says she was surrounded by cops just three blocks away, at the subway station at Lexington Ave. and 59th St. “There were three men and a woman,” she recalled. “Two of them attacked me and pushed me against a wall, and the other two appeared in front of me, blocking the turnstile.” The cops started peppering her with questions.
“They were very rough,” said Phillips, who has filed a notice of claim with the city of her intention to sue the NYPD and Barneys. “They kept asking me what I bought and saying, ‘Show us your card.’ I didn’t know what was happening.”

That confrontation was eerily similar to a clash between cops and 19-year-old Trayon Christian. We toldya Christian has now filed a discrimination suit accusing Barneys and the NYPD of racially profiling him. Christian, who is black, alleged he was followed into the street by undercover cops and accused of fraud after he used his debit card to buy a $349 Ferragamo belt at Barneys on April 29.

The young Queens man was cuffed, then brought to the 19th Precinct stationhouse, but released with no charges, his discrimination suit said. Both Christian and Phillips were amazed at how quickly they were swarmed by police. A Barneys exec told Phillips’ mother, Wendy Elie, that store employees didn’t call police on her.

Elie told The News a security guard told her that the store has law enforcement on patrol inside the store — part of an NYPD fraud task force. A source confirmed to The News that undercover cops are periodically inside the store because of repeated fraud complaints. Police said there were 53 grand larceny complaints for credit card fraud at the Madison Ave. store. There were more than 47 arrests. A racial breakdown of the suspects wasn’t immediately available.

Like Christian, Phillips used an ATM card to make her purchase. She plunked down her Bank of America card for the luxury item. Including tax, it cost Phillips $2,504, according to a receipt obtained by The News.

“I had been looking for that purse in that color for a long time, and it was always out of stock,” said the young mom, who is pregnant with her second child. Phillips was working at Home Depot at the time and had recently opened a bank account. She was using a temporary ATM card that didn’t have her name.

Her official ATM card had just arrived in the mail — and luckily she had it with her when the plainclothes cops nabbed her. The female detective, who was white, according to Phillips, demanded to know where she lived and what she was doing in Manhattan.
A Barneys spokesman said in a statement that the upscale store had looked into Christian’s incident, and that it was ‘clear’ that no Barneys employees were involved in any actions but the sale. A Barneys spokesman said in a statement that the upscale store had looked into Christian’s incident, and that it was ‘clear’ that no Barneys employees were involved in any actions but the sale.

“They kept asking how I could afford this expensive bag and why had I paid for it with a card with no name on it,” said Phillips. They also questioned her about the Chanel bag she was carrying, she said. She showed them a letter from the Bank of America, and told the detective she hadn’t activated her official card yet.

The detective took her card and started bending it, Phillips said. “If you were a victim of identity theft, if someone was trying to use your hard-earned money, wouldn’t you want us to investigate?” the female detective allegedly told Phillips, after the frightened shopper asked why they stopped her.

Phillips, whose brother is an NYPD officer, knew enough to ask the detectives for their names and badges, she said.
Now her attorney, Kareem Vessup, says a civil rights lawsuit over the incident is pending.

What do you think? I already know yall gonna say something about her being a single mom (with baby #2 on the way) buying a $2500 purse…with her TAX refund!



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