Anger Over “Shop and Frisk” Turns to Street Protests

A group of ministers led demonstrations in front of Barneys department store in New York City.

Posted: 10/31/2013 01:05 PM EDT

The anger over allegations of shop-and-frisk hit the streets of New York as protesters gathered in front of Barneys department store in Manhattan to demonstrate.

The protest was organized by a number of African-American ministers who said they felt a great obligation to address the issue in measures even beyond the talks that had taken place between civil rights activists and the management of the store.

“We wanted to register our major disenchantment about what happened to these Black shoppers who have been racially profiled,” said the Rev. Clinton Miller, the pastor of Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Brooklyn and the chief organizer of the protest, speaking with BET.com.

“We want to let Barneys and other stores know that they need to make adjustments and do what they can to regain the trust of African-American and Latino people.”

“This is offensive to every pastor with a congregation, to every parent and to every individual who believe that dignity and self-respect are important,” said the Rev. Conrad Tillard, the pastor at the Nazarene Congregational United Church of Christ, speaking with BET.com.

The demonstrations are likely to continue from time to time into the Christmas shopping season, Tillard said, “until there is some kind of agreement.”

The protests are the latest move in an event that has generated national attention in less than two weeks. Two young Black shoppers complained that they were stopped by personnel and police at Barneys, who questioned the validity of the sales of expensive items they purchased.

After that, there were similar complaints of discrimination from shoppers at Macy’s, the large, national department store chain.

Barneys and Macy's officials said police had acted without any store personnel playing a role in the matter. One of the shoppers was Rob Brown, an actor in the HBO series, Treme.

A number of civil rights leaders, clergy and others met on Tuesday with executives of Barneys in a meeting that was described as productive.

However, Tillard said those meetings, while important, were insufficient in addressing the issue and that demonstrations were also critical in the strategy of seeking to get stores to address a brand of racial profiling that has become known as “shop and frisk.”

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 (Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

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