Bucks' John Henson says he was racially profiled at Wisconsin jewelry store

Ball Don't Lie

Milwaukee Bucks big man John Henson took to Instagram on Monday afternoon to claim that he'd been racially profiled during a trip to a jewelry store in Whitefish Bay, Wis.

John Henson's Instagram post. (Screencap via collegespun.com)
John Henson's Instagram post. (Screencap via collegespun.com)
Scroll to continue with content
Ad

Henson, who is black and who recently signed a four-year, $44 million contract extension to stay with the Bucks, shared a photo showing the front of Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers. The caption read as follows:

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 [one] 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 [car] dealer vehicle I was in which is a part 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.

[The officer] 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.

John Henson of the Milwaukee Bucks looks away during Game 6 of the first round of the 2015 NBA playoffs. (AP)
John Henson of the Milwaukee Bucks looks away during Game 6 of the first round of the 2015 NBA playoffs. (AP)

After Henson's post began to gain traction and generate plenty of arched eyebrows, Tom Dixon, president of Schwanke-Kasten Jewelry, "said in a statement that he has met Henson before, and there is no excuse for how the Bucks player was treated," according to Jeff Rumage of WhitefishBayNow.com:

“John Henson is a valued member of the Bucks basketball organization and a valued member of the Milwaukee community,” he said. “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.”

Dixon said the employees’ reaction was based on a security scare that occurred on Friday, when the store received multiple calls inquiring how much of specific types of inventory were in stock and what time the store closed. Based on those concerns, the store closed 30 minutes early and employees notified the Whitefish Bay Police Department.

Dixon also told Milwaukee ABC affiliate WISN-TV that the "misunderstanding" was due not to the color of the 6-foot-11 Henson's skin, but rather to the color, make and model of the car he drove to the store.

On Friday, the store received suspicious calls to the store and decided to close early.

A half hour later, four people walked up to the door, but it was locked. Police were called and then observed a red Chevy Tahoe in the area.

In a statement Monday night the store owner said, “The [police] department began to patrol the area and recorded the license plate number of a vehicle the police department determined was suspicious in origin because its plates were issued by a dealer and were not registered to the vehicle on which they were displayed. Based on subsequent conversations between the police and the dealer, the dealer indicated that it was possible the plates were stolen.”

The owner said his store employees saw the same Chevy Tahoe outside the store Monday. They followed safety protocol and called police again.

Whitefish Bay Chief of Police Michael D. Young issued a two-page statement Monday night corroborating the prior week's suspicious activity calls, and noting that Schwanke-Kasten "has been the victim of robberies at their Milwaukee stores in the past [two] years."

According to the police statement, officers observed a "newer red Chevrolet Tahoe" park in front of the jewelry store on Friday afternoon, followed by four people getting out, walking up to the apparently locked door, speaking with an employee, then returning to their car and driving away. The Tahoe had "a State of Wisconsin issued Dealer license plate," according to police, which the officer ran "to ascertain ownership of the vehicle." After a phone call to the dealership failed to produce confirmation that it was their car, "the officer inquired about ways people could get a hold of these type of plates and the [dealership] employee informed the officer that they ship many cars to Chicago and it's possible somebody stole the plates."

Dixon requested an extra police presence on his store after a Green Bay store selling Rolexes had been burglarized Sunday, police said. That brings us to Monday's incident, as described by Chief Young:

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. 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.

The Bucks acknowledged the incident Monday, saying in a team statement that they "are trying to contact the store directly."

- - - - - - -

Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL, "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more.

What to Read Next