The Daily News’s New Crusade: Upscale Shopper Harassment

Wednesday's Daily News cover

Wednesday’s cover.

The Daily News has thrown its editorial weight behind a new cause: racial discrimination of shoppers.

The paper, which strongly defends the NYPD stop-and-frisk tactic also accused by critics as profiling, has taken an unmistakable position of outrage.

Over the course of the last week, the News devoted a total of four covers, multiple editorials and other follow-up stories to black shoppers who say that they were discriminated against by department stores.

The “shopping while black” issue became front page news on Wednesday when the News put Trayon Christian, a 19-year-old engineering student, on the cover after the teen alleged in a lawsuit that he was stopped by the NYPD after buying a $350 belt at Barneys. Mr. Christian is suing the NYPD and the department store for the incident, which happened on April 29.

“What happened to Trayon Christian cannot happen in New York. Barneys needs to accept that racial stereotyping went out of style with Jim Crow. And Commissioner Ray Kelly must examine why his officers failed to give Christian the benefit of the doubt,” the News wrote in an editorial last Wednesday.

The News followed up the story the next day with the case of Kayla Phillips, “Another black Barneys shopper accused of credit card fraud after buying $2,500 purse: claim,” according to the headline.

Daily News Cover

Friday’s Daily News cover

On Friday, the News noted that the rapper Jay-Z, who has a Barneys collection debuting in November, was “silent” when the News confronted him in Sweden.  Jay-Z responded over the weekend, but the News wasn’t satisfied with his statement.

“Jay Z played the role of a victim Saturday in his first words on the Barneys controversy — releasing a whiny, self-serving statement that doesn’t once criticize the department store or mention the black customers it’s accused of racially profiling,” wrote the News.

The News wrote an editorial today dissecting Jay-Z’s response and concluding that it is lacking (the News compares the rapper’s statement to those of the NYPD and Barneys):

Carter’s cry of victimization must be taken as the measure of the man, for he issued it not in the heat of the moment but after three days of consideration and consultation. The tone deafness of a man so musically talented is all the more glaring in comparison with the words and actions of the NYPD and Barneys.

While neither has been forthcoming with facts, both have recognized the gravity of the Christian and Phillips cases. The cops who arrested Christian apologized, and the department has launched an Internal Affairs investigation. Barneys quickly brought in a civil rights lawyer to review its actions and policies.

In a separate story, the News noted that Jay-Z has weighed in on racial issues in the past.

Also over the weekend, the News wrote about two more shoppers (one, Robert Browne, an actor) who lodged similar complaints against Macy’s and columnist Linda Stasi took on the issue yesterday.

This is not the first time that the News has actively campaigned in such a manner. Earlier this year, the tabloid took on gun control after the Sandyhook elementary school massacre.