*African American Milwaukee Bucks forward John Henson is accusing a jewelry store in Whitefish Bay, WI of racial profiling, saying employees locked its doors and called police when he was about to enter to purchase a watch.
“This was one of 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,” Henson said in a lengthy Instagram post.
The message prompted an apology from the store owner, who said the incident was a misunderstanding.
Henson said the profiling took place Monday at luxury jeweler Schwanke-Kasten. After he was turned away form entering the store, Henson said two Whitefish Bay police officers then approached and asked him what he was doing, why he wanted to go into the store and how he came to be in possession of the vehicle he was driving.
“They locked the door and told me to go away,” Henson said in the Instagram post. “After I rang the doorbell twice, everyone went to the back. No [one] answered the door or told me what was going on.”
Henson said he told the police he was “just trying to look at a watch,” and he was allowed entry only when it became clear to the police that he presented no threat to the employees and “it was safe.”
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 .
The store owner, Thomas Dixon, told Whitefish Bay Now the employees turned Henson away in response to an alert they received from the Whitefish Bay police and the incident was a misunderstanding over Henson’s vehicle. Police had asked employees to be on the lookout for certain types of cars, Dixon said.
Whitefish Bay Police issued a two-page statement detailing the department’s recent interactions with the store and the officers’ encounter with Henson. The statement said the department had advised the store to call police if a Red Chevrolet Tahoe like Henson’s arrived, after one parked outside the store days earlier raised suspicions that its plates were stolen. The statement also said the store had previously been robbed and had closed early Friday, after repeated suspicious calls about its closing time.
Henson said in his post that the car was part of an endorsement deal with a Chevrolet dealer.
The police statement said the officers were dispatched to the store Monday afternoon, “as the Red Tahoe had returned.” The officers talked to Henson, including questioning him about the dealer plates on his Tahoe, then requested the employees open the door. The officers who questioned Henson never asked for his ID and left the area after the store reopened, according to the statement.
Dixon, the owner, also later issued a statement to multiple local media outlets. He said the business regrets how the encounter unfolded and he wanted to apologize personally to Henson.
“We all agree that racial profiling is never acceptable and deeply regret how the circumstances unfolded Friday and today,” Dixon said in his statement Monday night. Dixon has reached out to the Bucks and hopes to sit down with Henson to “apologize for what he experienced.”
The Bucks released a statement Monday afternoon calling the incident “very troubling.”
“Nobody should be treated that way,” the statement said. “We are trying to contact the store directly.”
Henson, the 14th overall pick out of North Carolina in 2012, signed a contract extension with the Bucks earlier this month. The extension is a four-year, $45 million deal that could reach $48 million with incentives. In his third season in the league, Henson averaged 7.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 18 minutes.