Jewelry Store Owner Apologizes to Milwaukee Bucks Forward John Henson


Jewelry Store Owner Apologizes to Milwaukee Bucks Forward John Henson

By Burt Carey

Four years in a Milwaukee Bucks uniform and a four-year $45 million contract deal wasn’t enough for 6-foot, 11-inch forward John Henson to buy a watch at an upscale suburban Milwaukee jewelry store.

330px-John_Henson_croppedHenson posted on the online site Instagram Monday that employees at Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers in Whitefish Bay, Wis., locked the door and told him to leave when they saw him exit a red Chevrolet Tahoe and attempt to enter the store. Henson said the employees turned out the lights and moved to the back of the store.

“They locked the door and told me to go away,” Henson wrote on Instagram. “After I rang the doorbell twice everyone went to the back. 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 [two] officers and questioned about the dealer vehicle I was in.

“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 [and] 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 most degrading and racially prejudice things I’ve ever experienced in life and wouldn’t wish this on anyone,” Henson wrote. “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 Bucks selected Henson as the 14th player picked in the 2012 NBA draft. Henson, a University of North Carolina grad who is black, signed a four-year extension with Milwaukee during the offseason.

By Tuesday the store’s owner, Thomas Dixon, visited with Henson at the Bucks training facility to apologize for the incident, and Henson’s Instagram post was deleted.

The owner of the jewelry store told WISN 12 in Milwaukee that he was wary of Henson because he was driving a car with dealer plates. A car with dealer plates had been involved in suspicious activity at the store recently. Dixon claims the employees denied Henson entry in response to an alert they received from the Whitefish Bay Police Department in which police had told employees to watch out for certain types of cars.

A Whitefish Bay Police statement said the department had advised the store to call police if a red Chevrolet Tahoe like Henson’s arrived. A vehicle fitting that description had parked outside the store days earlier, raising suspicions that its plates were stolen. The police statement added that the store had been robbed previously and had closed early Friday after repeated suspicious calls about its closing time.

Henson said the car is part of an endorsement deal with a Chevrolet dealer. His vehicle had dealer license plates.

The police statement said the officers were dispatched to the store Monday afternoon after Henson parked his red Tahoe in front of the store. The officers talked to Henson and questioned him about the dealer plates on his Tahoe. The officers 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 issued a statement to media outlets saying 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.

“He knew that shouldn’t have happened,” said Henson on Tuesday. “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.”

Source:  Sportsmans Lifestyle