A man is arrested for buying a belt with his own money. The stated reason? “Because he could not afford to make such an expensive purchase.” The real reason? Let’s discuss.
19-year-old Trayon Christian, who is an engineering freshman at the NYC College of Technology, filed a civil rights lawsuit on Tuesday against upscale Madison Avenue department store Barneys and the NYPD for being arrested and accused of fraud after purchasing a $320 belt, with his own money.
According to the Daily Mail, Christian, who lives with his mom in Queens, had saved up the money from his part-time job to purchase the designer belt. After making the purchase, using his own debit card and showing ID to the sales person, he was “pounced on” by undercover police on the street “because he could not afford to make such an expensive purchase.”According to his lawyer, Michael Palillo, Christian was asked “how a young black man such as himself could afford to purchase such an expensive belt.” Palillo told the New York Daily News:
He’s never been arrested. His only crime was being a young black guy buying a $300 belt.
The young man was taking to a local NYPD precinct where he once again showed his ID, debit card and the store receipt for the belt. But according to the lawsuit, the officers still refused to believe him and, “In spite of producing such documentation Christian was told that his identification was false and that he could not afford to make such an expensive purchase,” the suit states.
It wasn’t until officers were able to contact Chase bank and received verification that the debit card Christian used was in fact his that the teen was released. He had spent two hours in an NYPD holding cell, for using his own money to purchase a designer belt. The NYPD denies any wrongdoing, and claims the young man was only held for 42 minutes.
A spokesperson for Barneys New York said:
Barneys New York typically does not comment on pending litigation.
In this instance, we feel compelled to note that after carefully reviewing the incident of last April, it is clear that no employee of Barneys New York was involved in the pursuit of any action with the individual other than the sale.
Barneys New York has zero tolerance for any form of discrimination and we stand by our long history in support of all human rights.
Christian did exactly what we tell young people all the time to do, he worked hard, saved his earnings and purchased what he desired, with his own money. Instead of being rewarded for being self-sufficient and having both the patience and perseverance to acquire what he wanted legitimately and on his own, he was punished simply for being young and black. But given the track record of the NYPD, this should not come as a great surprise.
What do you think? What do you think the long-term effects of racial profiling will do to the group of people being targeted?