BY RICH SCHAPIRO , RYAN SIT AND LARRY MCSHANE / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
PUBLISHED: SATURDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2013, 7:11 PM UPDATED: SUNDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2013, 3:39 AM
Jay Z played the role of a victim Saturday in his first words on the Barneys controversy — releasing a whiny, self-serving statement that doesn’t once criticize the department store or mention the black customers it’s accused of racially profiling.
Instead, the Brooklyn-born rapper cries about the attention he’s received in the press.
“Why am I being demonized, denounced and thrown on the cover of a newspaper for not speaking immediately?” Jay Z complains in the statement.
The hip-hop mogul has been under fire — and deafeningly silent — since the first allegation of racial profiling was splashed across the Daily News Wednesday.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Friday’s front page of the New York Daily News. ‘Why am I being demonized, denounced and thrown on the cover of a newspaper for not speaking immediately?’ Jay Z asked in a statement.
Thousands have since signed an online petition and lit up social media calling for Jay Z to drop a planned holiday partnership with Barneys. The Jay Z collection is slated to debut Nov. 20.
But his watered-down response didn’t win him back his fans.
The Brooklyn man who launched the Change.org petition that has garnered 13,670 signatures blasted Jay Z’s unusually weak words.
“He didn’t say that what happened at Barneys is wrong. That’s what I wanted him to say,” Derick Bowers, 28, told The News.
“He said nobody should be racially profiled, but he never mentioned that what happened with these two people is wrong, and he never mentioned that connection with Barneys.”
Jay Z has been facing backlash for days over his collaboration with Barneys — and his statement didn’t do much to tone down the criticism on Twitter.
The rapper, whose real name is Shawn Carter, tried to deflect the criticism — saying he stands to make nothing from the partnership.
“I am not making a dime from this collection,” Jay Z says. “This money is going to help individuals facing socio-economic hardships to help further their education at institutions of higher learning.”
And he took pains to explain why he’s waited until now to break his silence on the Barneys brouhaha.
“I move and speak based on facts and not emotion,” Jay Z said. “I haven’t made any comments because I am waiting on facts and the outcome of a meeting between community leaders and Barneys.”
The closest he gets to showing any sympathy for the alleged victims is a vague reference to them in the second-to-last sentence of his 20-line statement.
MARCUS SANTOS/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Barneys flagship store on Madison Ave. Demonstrators are planning a November sit-in at the store.
“I am no stranger to being profiled and I truly empathize with anyone that has been put in that position,” Jay Z says.
The mother of Trayon Christian — who claims he was detained by cops for two hours after buying a $349 Ferragamo belt at Barneys in April — said she wasn’t all that surprised by Jay Z’s statement.
Even the officers who questioned the 19-year-old Martin have since apologized — but Jay Z doesn’t say a peep about the incident.
“He’s a businessman,” Selena Christian told The News on Saturday. “He’s gonna do what he’s gonna do with his clothing line.”
The lawyer for Kayla Phillips, 21 — a Brooklyn nursing student who said she was harassed by cops after buying a $2,500 handbag in February — was equally unmoved by Jay Z’s words.
PEARL GABEL/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Trayon Christian, 19, was stopped after buying a $349 Ferragamo belt from Barneys.
“Kayla appreciates that he’s trying to make a change, especially for those who are socio-economically challenged, but it shouldn’t be done at the expense of African-Americans — or any other minority for that matter — being racially profiled in the manner that she was treated,” said Kareem Vessup.
“The expectation is that once he’s aware of the reality of what Kayla Phillips went through, he’ll choose not to do business with Barneys any longer,” he added.
At the Marcy Houses in Brooklyn, where Jay Z grew up, the criticism was even more pointed.
“He’s just trying to cover his tail, making sure people are going to keep promoting him,” said Te Smith, 26.
“After this racial profiling, people would stop supporting him if he didn’t come out and say something because it looks like he’s going into business with people who racially profile.
AARON SHOWALTER/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Kayla Phillips, 21, says she was harassed by undercover cops after purchasing a $2,500 handbag.
“Yeah, it’s going to a good cause,” Smith added, referring to Jay Z’s deal, “but I don’t think he should do it.”
Allah El, a 44-year-old Marcy Houses resident, spoke directly to the hip-hop star nicknamed HOVA. “Step up and say something for us.
“You was us one time. You wasn’t always rubbing elbows with Bill Gates,” said El, adding, “Look at where he’s at. He’s not going to say Barneys is wrong.”
Phillips and Christian are suing Barneys and the NYPD.
Earlier Saturday, the Rev. Al Sharpton threatened a boycott of the ritzy store unless some action was taken.
“We are not going to live in a town where our money is considered suspect and everyone else’s money is respected,” he said.
Representatives of Sharpton’s National Action Network will meet Tuesday with Barneys officials about the flap.
“Mr. Carter did not address these two particular incidents that brought this whole thing to a head, but there’s still time for him to do that,” said Kirsten John Foy, the National Action Network leader meeting with the Barneys honchos.
Both mayoral candidates said Saturday that it was too early to call for a boycott of Barneys — contrary to growing sentiment on Facebook and Twitter.