College Teen Racially Profiled and Arrested After Buying $350 Belt from Luxury Department Store

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Trayon Christian
Trayon Christian
NBC 4 New York

Trayon Christian, a 19-year-old college student from Queens, New York never imagined that he would be arrested and interrogated for buying a $350 Salvatore Ferragamo belt at Barneys on New York’s Madison Avenue.

As many stores do when making expensive purchases, Christian was asked to provide identification with his debit card, which he complied–no harm, no foul. But apparently after his purchase, the store was suspicious, which led to someone notifying police. The 19-year-old left the store and was soon stopped by police.

According to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Manhattan Supreme Court, police asked Christian “how a young black man such as himself could afford to purchase such an expensive belt,” and was carted off to the local precinct, where he showed police his identification, as well as his debit card and the receipt for the belt..

Police still believed Christian’s identification was fake, and eventually called his bank, which verified it was his, according to the complaint. Christian, who has no prior arrests, was released.

During an interview with NBC 4 New York, Christian said questions were racing through his mind during the whole ordeal.

 “Why me? I guess because I’m a young black man, and you know, people do a credit card scam so they probably thought that I was one of them,” Christian said. “They probably think that black people don’t have money like that.”

After his release, Christian returned the belt and is now suing both the city and Barneys as a result of “great physical and mental distress and humiliation.”

Christian’s attorney, Michael Palillo, says, “His only crime was being a young black man.”

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