Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Schwanke-Kasten and Racial Profiling

Although John Henson acknowledges the "sincere" apology he received from Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers president Tom Dixon, he's still not OK with how he was treated.

The Milwaukee Bucks' John Henson met with Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers president Tom Dixon on Tuesday morning at the team's training center in St. Francis and received an apology for treatment the player received while trying to shop at the Whitefish Bay store Monday afternoon.

Henson was locked out of the store and questioned by Whitefish Bay police before being allowed to enter, and he wrote an Instagram post saying he was a victim of racial profiling.

"He was sincere in his apology," Henson said of his meeting with Dixon. "He knew that shouldn't have happened. He's had some prior incidents, but it still doesn't make it right for them to do what they did. It's a real issue, but right now I want to focus on the game tonight (vs. Minnesota) and there will be time to talk about it later. I am going to do some things to raise awareness of situations like that and go from there."

...The 24-year-old Henson, who is starting his fourth season with the Bucks, said he never had been treated in such a manner.

"But to be hit with it head-on, it was a tough situation," he said. "A surreal moment. It's one of those things that happened and I felt that I needed to speak on it. I never want anybody else to go through that. It's not a good feeling.

"The post brought awareness to the situation, which is what I was trying to do. If it stops one person from going through what I did and having to feel like that, that's why I did it. I'm happy it can kind of be resolved."

Whitefish Bay police were watching the store due to suspicious phone calls on Friday and past robberies. Store employees eventually let Henson in the store but asked police officers to stay, but the officers refused and left the area, according to the police report.

"It's unfortunate that I came at a time things were happening to the store, but I think steps could have been taken to prevent what happened," Henson said. "Somebody could have come to the door and said, 'Can I help you?'

"I might have a watch and we might not be talking about this. It's one of those things that could have been prevented. The owner took ownership of what he needed to do to fix his polices, and I'm happy to hear that."
Have you ever been a victim of profiling?

I have, many times.

For instance, as a teenager, I was shopping with my mother. While she was checking out, I was waiting for her near the entrance to the store. A security guard hassled me, wanting to know what I was doing. He was embarrassed when my mother came over with purchases in hand. That was the end of it. There was no Twitter or Instagram and I certainly wasn't a professional athlete.

I didn't like being treated so poorly. The fact that I remember the incident at all is testimony to that.

People are profiled all the time. That's what you call reality.

There's another angle here. The Schwanke-Kasten employees were afraid. They feared being the victims of a crime. They feared for their safety.

I know what that's like, too. Years ago, working in retail, I had a frightening experience when it was time to close the store. The suspicious individuals were the same race as me. It wasn't a matter of racial profiling, but I do understand being very afraid.

There's no question that the way Henson was treated was unfortunate. It was a mistake on the part of the Schwanke-Kasten employees.

People overreact. Fear is a powerful thing.

Crime is scary. No one wants to be a victim.

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