James Conley III alleges that he was racially profiled at an Old Navy store in West Des Moines, IA.
In a Facebook post from earlier this week, Conley says he walked into the Old Navy store wearing an Old Navy coat he received as a recent Christmas gift.
He alleges that his blue, bubble coat caught the attention of the store manager who demanded that Conley allow the store to scan it and make sure the coat wasn’t stolen merchandise. Conley believes he was singled out because he is Black.
“The store manager Beau Carter was very unprofessional and stereotyped me because I am a Black male. He says ‘anytime someone wears Old Navy clothing they have to always scan that customer’s 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??”
Conley included several videos in his post, which has garnered more than 100,000 shares.
The incident escalated to the point where Conley says he asked the Old Navy employees to watch the surveillance tape of him entering the store, so they could see for themselves that he was already wearing the coat when he entered. According to Conley, the employees confirmed his account and he left without further incident, but also without an apology.
Gap Inc, the parent company of Old Navy has a published “Customer Bill of Rights” on its website that specifically prohibits racial profiling. A spokesperson for Old Navy emailed the Des Moines Register a statement reiterating their zero tolerance policy when it comes to racial profiling in their stores.
“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,” the statement reads.
After the incident went viral, the store in question was temporarily closed the next day. It has since re-opened, according to the Des Moines Register.
Old Navy maintains that an investigation is underway, while Conley has obtained legal counsel.