Milwaukee Bucks forward John Henson said he was racially profiled at a jewelry store in Whitefish Bay, Wis., today. Henson claimed the employees locked the doors when he arrived, and may have called the police on him.
Henson took a photo of the front of Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers on Instagram and added his account of the incident in the caption. He also said the police asked him where he got his car, which was from a sponsorship with a local dealership:
Went to @schwankekasten jewelry today in White-Fish Bay during regular business hours . They locked the door and told me to go away . After I rang the doorbell twice everyone went to the back. No answered the door or told me what was going on. This was followed by two police cars pulling up and parking across the street and watching me for 5 minutes ( I assumed they were called by the store ) . I was then approached by 2 officers and questioned about the dealer vehicle I was in which is apart of my endorsement deal with Kunes country Chevrolet and asked me what I wanted amongst other things that were just irrelevant to me being there just trying to shop at the store like a normal paying customer would do . I told them I was just trying to look at a watch. He then had to go in the back and tell them to come out it was safe but this is after they ran my plates and I overheard them talking about doing more of a background check on the car. The employees finally came out of the back and proceeded to conduct business like they previously were as we walked up . This was one of the the most degrading and racially prejudice things I’ve ever experienced in life and wouldn’t wish this on anyone . This store needs to be called out and that’s what I’m doing . You have no right to profile someone because of their race and nationality and this incident needs to be brought to light and I urge anyone who ever is thinking of shopping here reads this and doesn’t bring any business to this discriminatory place .
Update (6:14 p.m.): WISN 12 talked to Thomas Dixon, the owner of the jewelry store. He said the incident with Henson was a misunderstanding because of Henson’s car:
Dixon said the store has had three armed robberies in 18 months, and one of the suspect vehicles involved is from the same dealership as Henson’s vehicle. Dixon said when employees saw the vehicle with dealer plates, they became suspicious based on the previous robberies.
Dixon said the misunderstanding is over the vehicle involved, and was not due to racial profiling.
Update (9:45 p.m.): The Whitefish Bay Police Department has released a lengthy statement on the incident. It gives background on previous suspicious activity at Schwanke-Kasten Jewlers, as well as past incidents of theft at Schwanke-Kasten stores in Wisconsin.
Most pertinently, last week the Whitefish Bay store received two calls they believed to be suspicious, asking when the store closed. The store normally closes at 5:30, but on Friday a store employee decided to close at 5:00 as a precaution because of the calls. An employee reported the calls to police, and at 4:58 p.m. police observed a newer red Chevy Tahoe park in front of the store. Four males got out and talked to an employee through the locked door, before eventually leaving. The police traced the license plate back to a Wisconsin dealership, but were not able to ascertain who the car actually belonged to.
And here is what police say happened today:
On Monday, 10/19/15 at 1:20 pm, Whitefish Bay officers were dispatched to Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers as the Red Tahoe had returned. Officers met up in front of 5500 N. Berkeley which is around the corner from Schwanke-Kasten.. [sic] They observed two men in front of the store. The officer ran the license plate and it came back to a Ford dealership and came back as “No Vehicle Attached” and was not listed as stolen.
The two Whitefish Bay officers approached the two men in front of Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers and asked what was going on. A man, later identified as John Henson, informed the officer that he was there to buy his first Rolex, but every time he tries the door, it’s locked and they don’t let him in. One of the officers asks him about the dealer plates on the Tahoe. He advises the officer that he plays for the Milwaukee Bucks and that Bucks players get vehicles from this dealership. Neither officer asked Mr. Henson or his companion for driver licenses or any other identification.
The officer called dispatch to request that a Schwanke-Kasten employee come to the front door. The employee told the dispatcher to have the officer come to the back door. After my officer informed the Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers employee that it was a Milwaukee Buck, the employee came to the front door and let them in. The employee requested that an officer stand by as they looked at the Rolexes, our officers refused and left the store. The officers then left the area.
At no time did Whitefish Bay Police make any notice to merchants on Silver Spring because of these incidents.
You can read the full police statement below.
H/t to Jordan
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