“We deeply regret that these recent events have distracted from the great work of the [Shawn] Carter Foundation, and we offer our sincere apologies to Mr. Carter,” Barneys head Mark Lee said during a sit-down and press conference with civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton at his Harlem, New York, headquarters, as quoted by the New York Post.
After two separate shoppers said that they were harassed, and one of them was arrested by New York City police after making legitimate purchases at the shop, a petition surfaced on Change.org asking for Jay to end his partnership with Barneys in a show of support.
Lee has since apologized to the customers as well. According to the New York Times, a loss prevention strategy was in place, where security guards were encouraged to take risks in stopping suspicious customers, which resulted in the false alarms. The New York Police Department and Barneys still argue over whether the store’s personnel called in the shopping activity of the two alleged victims.
The state attorney general has launched an investigation into the treatment of other Barneys customers.
The Hov-led “New York Holiday” collection was announced in September and will go on sale November 20. It’ll feature exclusive scarves, backpacks, jackets and watches from labels like Balmain and Balenciaga.
The collection’s proceeds are slotted to directly go to Jay’s Shawn Carter Foundation, a charity that awards scholarships to students facing socio-economic hardships. On Saturday, the rapper scoffed at the notion that he should back out of the Barneys deal with the controversy still fresh and facts not readily apparent. Barneys says they have since conducted an investigation and found that none of their employees reached out to authorities about the two incidents in question.
“If I make snap judgments, no matter who it’s towards, aren’t I committing the same sin as someone who profiles?” he asks in a statement posted over the weekend. “I am no stranger to being profiled and I truly empathize with anyone that has been put in that position. Hopefully this brings forth a dialogue to effect real change.”
Hov says backing out of the deal will cause harm to “all the people that stand a chance at higher education.”
It is unclear how the buying public will react when Hov’s line goes on sale next month, but there has been some strong reaction amongst fans on Twitter.
Even Kanye West weighed in a bit during his Friday Yeezus tour stop in Las Vegas. “That’s that racial profiling outside of Barneys and sh–, talking about, ‘Did you steal that?’ ” he rapped to the crowd in an off-the-cuff remix to his “New Slaves” lyrics.