Spurred by multiple recent reports that Macy's and Barneys have wrongfully targeted black customers for arrest merely because they purchased expensive items, the Council's Committees on Civil Rights and Oversight and Investigations met with community members and the NYC Commission on Human Rights today to address concerns that racial profiling is all too common in retail stores across the city. Not present at today's hearing on "shop and frisk": Macy's, Barneys, and the NYPD.

In letters of prepared testimony, both Barneys and Macy's shifted the blame to the NYPD and away from their own "loss prevention" practices. Barneys specifically claimed "no involvement in the two stops," alleging that the suspicions of undercover detectives and other officers making unscheduled visits to stores were responsible for what Trayon Christian and Kayla Phillips endured.

"I'm offended that Barneys and Macy's aren't here. I think it's insulting not just to the City Council but to the city of New York and the people who shop there," Councilmember Jumaane Williams said after the stores' letters were read into the record. Williams, Councilmember Deborah Rose, and many others also expressed disappointment that the NYPD sent no representative and offered no testimony.

Jay-Z, who just launched a clothing line with Barneys to benefit his charity, was not present; but he probably had a thing.

Those parties hadn't bothered to show up, but the Rev. Al Sharpton was happy to fill the space. "We have been not only exploited, and violated, we have been betrayed...There is no way that the incidents that we are seeing here without collaboration at some level with somebody in the stores."

Williams cited reports of private in-store jails for suspects of credit card fraud and wondered aloud if white offenders have ever had to endure similar treatment. "I've never heard of anyone complain of a white man in a suit being profiled in a bank," the councilman said.