NBA Player John Henson Accuses Wisconsin Jewelry Store of Racial Profiling

The owner of Whitefish Bay, Wis., jeweler Schwanke-Kasten has apologized to Henson, who has vowed to work to raise awareness of racial profiling

John Henson, forward for the Milwaukee Bucks, has accused Whitefish Bay, Wis., jeweler Schwanke-Kasten of racial profiling.

In an Instagram post (which has been deleted, but the full text is at the end of this article), Henson, who is African American, detailed what happened when he visited the store on Oct. 19. He was met with locked doors, and when he rang the doorbell, the employees went in the back. Soon after, two police officers arrived and questioned him.

He concluded by saying: “This was one of the most degrading and racially prejudice things I’ve ever experienced in life and wouldn’t wish this on anyone.

Thomas Dixon, owner of Schwanke-Kasten, released a statement Monday evening providing some context for the incident. He said that the store had experienced suspicious calls and that Henson’s car matched the description of a vehicle previously seen in the area around the time of those calls. 

He also apologized to Henson and said that he had reached out to the Bucks directly in the hope of making things right.

“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,” Dixon said.

On Oct. 20, Dixon got his chance, meeting with Henson at the Bucks’ training facility.

“He knew that shouldn’t have happened,” said Henson following the meeting, according to ESPN. “He’d had some prior incidents, but it still doesn’t make it right for them to do what they did. It’s a real issue today, but right now, I want to focus on the game tonight, 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.”

Bucks coach Jason Kidd has this to say following the meeting:

“For our young team, for our city, for our state, it’s something for us to learn from. Everybody makes mistakes. Nobody is perfect. For the owner to come and apologize to John, personally, was a step in the right direction.”

In the meantime, local media has reported protesters at the store and a Facebook group calling for a boycott of the store has received nearly 500 likes.

JCK reached out to Schwanke-Kasten but had not connected with a spokesperson by press time; we will update this post when we do.

Racial profiling allegations are not rare in this industry, though they rarely make national headlines. In 2013, Macy’s was sued for unfairly detaining an African American man, and in 2014, Rob Bates wrote about the danger of profiling. 

 

Full text of John Henson’s Instagram post, from Deadspin:

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 .