Bucks player John Henson claims racial profiling, discrimination at local jewelry store
On a Monday evening, people freely come and go, from store to store in Whitefish Bay. But one man said he was denied that right by one business.
"I could see people coming up to him and asking him for his autograph out of assumption, but to lock him out of a store?" questioned Shar Borg of Milwaukee. "C'mon that's crazy."
That's what John Henson claims happened when he stopped by Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers to look at a watch.
When he rang the door bell, the 6-foot-11 black man says an employee locked the door and told him to go away. He tried again and the workers went to the back of the store.
"I'm sick," Borg said. "I am sick and disgusted and dumbfounded."
"I love Milwaukee, but we have our fair share of issues in the city with racism and segregation," said Alisa Nagle of Shorewood.
But the incident didn't stop there.
Henson claims the store, in business since 1899, called the cops. He said two Whitefish Bay officers questioned what he wanted and the dealer car he was driving.
The second-year player out of North Carolina took his frustration to social media, saying the car is part of an endorsement deal and he was just trying to shop at the store like a normal paying customer.
Here is the text of Henson's Instagram post:
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 .
You can view the original Instagram here.
Henson recently signed a four-year, $44 million extension with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Police eventually gave the all clear and business inside returned to normal, but Henson said racial prejudice should never be okay. Those we spoke with hope Whitefish Bay residents feel the same.
"They should be upset, outraged and should internalize what happened here, what it means and try to do better," Nagle said.
Late Monday night, we heard from the store's owner, Tom Dixon, who said on Friday, the store received multiple calls about what time the store closed and its inventory. The jeweler is known for selling high-end items.
To be safe, Whitefish Bay police were notified and identified the suspicious vehicle as a red Tahoe with dealer plates. Dixon said it just so happens store employees saw the same car outside the store Monday.
Here is Dixon's full statement:
"We all agree that racial profiling is never acceptable and deeply regret how the circumstances unfolded Friday and today.
John Henson is a valued member of the Bucks basketball organization and a valued member of the Milwaukee community. We believe that everyone - professional athlete or not - deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. I have reached out to the Bucks organization and hope to sit down directly with John Henson to look one another in the eye, shake hands, and apologize for what he experienced.
I have met John Henson in the store before. There is no excuse for what he experienced today and I hope to see him again to personally apologize."
Whitefish Bay police also released a statement, including recent history of theft at the store.
Meanwhile, Milwaukee Bucks spokesperson Jake Suski said, "We've spoken with John about what happened. It's very troubling to all of us. Nobody should be treated that way. We are trying to contact the store directly."