UPDATE: Liz Nunan of Gap Inc. responded to my email stating:
At Old Navy, and across Gap Inc., we maintain a ‘zero means zero’ policy and we are actively investigating the situation. We are a company made up of diverse people – from all backgrounds and cultures. We encourage diversity in thought, celebrate diversity in each other and demand tolerance and inclusion, always.
Tuesday Evening, James Conely III made a Facebook post about his recent experience at the Jordan Creek Old Navy store located in Des Moines Iowa. Since yesterday, a lot has transpired, but Old Navy has yet to reach out to Conley or address the issue publicly.
Today I was racially profiled by the Old Navy store in West Des Moines, Iowa in Jordan creek. I was accused that I didn’t pay for my blue bubble jacket that I got for Christmas that I wore into the store. As I was checking out to purchase some hoodies, I was asked if I wanted to also purchase the jacket that I was wearing. First, I started laughing because I didnt believe what I was hearing. The store manager Beau Carter was very unprofessional and stereotyped me because I was a Black male. He says “anytime someone wears Old Navy clothing they have to always scan that customers clothing to insure that it was previously purchased”. (Where do they do that at?) Every time I go to this store I have on my same exact winter blue jacket and have never been asked to scan my clothing and the previous “non-black” customers had on identical apparel as me from old navy but was never asked to scan their clothing. Then after they scan my jacket they try to make me repay for it?? Finally the District Manager Shannon (who refused to give out her last name) came out and I made her check the surveillance tape to prove that her and her fellow employees were in the wrong for racially profiling me because of the color of my skin. Once she confirmed that I was telling the truth (after watching the tape) she never came back out to apologize to me nor did the store manager Beau Carter as you can see in my videos below. #RacialProfiling #CrazyWorld #NoMore #OldNavy#VeryDisappointed #ThankGodForKeepingMePoised #Repost #Share
Support for Conley has be large and swift, with users taking to Twitter to find District Manager Shannon Plagman who has, since, deleted her Twitter account; and ask Gap Inc. for an explanation.
Being a person of color (POC) in a store is a unique experience. Very often, we deal with the preconceived, prejudiced and, yes, in fact, racist stereotypes that POC customers steal. This can cause shop clerks and store workers to engage POC customers in a number of ways that they normally would not engage with a white shopper. Whether its being followed around the store or being told that taking off the jacket you wore into the store in order to verify that you did, in fact, purchase the jacket and am not stealing; People of Color have a very different experience when shopping.
I reached out to Old Navy customer service first, and was guided to Gap Inc.’s customer feedback line. After this short goose chase, I learned that I had been directed to a phone number that Gap Inc, itself, says it does not check, and was asked to leave a message. I then reached out via email to Gap Inc. via their press email for a statement on this developing story.
Gap Inc. has responded via Twitter, asking Conley III to contact them so that they may speak about the episode.
This QPOC Life will continue to follow coverage as it unfolds.
In the meantime, supporters of Conley III are calling on an Old Navy boycott, as the store has seemingly contradicted itself with regard to the “store policy” of checking “all Old Navy apparel” in light of Gap Inc.’s own Customer Bill of Rights.
CUSTOMER BILL OF RIGHTS
Gap prohibits profiling in our stores.
“Profiling” is defined generally as the practice of judging and addressing people based on their race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, disability, ancestry, appearance, or any personal or physical characteristics.
Profiling is an unacceptable practice and will not be tolerated.
Gap is committed to ensuring that all shoppers, guests, and employees are treated with respect and dignity and are free from unreasonable searches, profiling, and discrimination of any kind in our store.
Gap strictly prohibits unreasonable searches and/or the profiling of customers by any employee. The participation by employees in such activities or the failure to report such instances of which they have knowledge is a violation of company policy. Employees who violate the company’s prohibition on profiling will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.
Gap supports the use of internal programs to test compliance with our strict prohibition against profiling practices.
Gap retains security guards and/or loss prevention professional to help provide shoppers and employees with a safe and secure shopping environment. Security guards in New York State are trained and licensed pursuant to New York State’s General Business Law, including pre-employment training, on-the-job training, and regular in-service training required by state law.
Gap requires its employees to respect the basic civil and legal rights of any person suspected of shoplifting or other crime committed on store property.
Gap requires all loss prevention employees to identify themselves as members of Gap loss prevention department when initiating any customer contact and to willingly provide his/her name to any customer upon request. The use of excessive force or using threatening, vulgar language when apprehending or detaining suspects or in the course of performing any duties as a loss prevention representative is prohibited.
A person may be detained only in a reasonable manner and for not more than a reasonable time to permit investigation or questioning, provided an authorized employee has reasonable grounds to believe that the person so detained was guilty of criminal possession of an anti-security item or was committing or attempting to commit shoplifting on the premises (New York State General Business Law, Section 218).
Coverage will continue.