Bucks' John Henson accuses luxury jewelry store, cops of racial profiling

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Bucks center John Henson alleged he was the victim of racial profiling at a Milwaukee-area jewelry store, which prompted an apology from the store owner, who said the incident was a misunderstanding.

Henson took to Instagram to draw attention to what he called "one of the most degrading" incidents he has experienced.

Henson, who is black, alleged the discrimination occurred Monday when luxury jeweler Schwanke-Kasten in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, turned him away from entering the store. Henson said two Whitefish Bay police officers then approached and asked him what he was doing, why he wanted to go into the store and how he came to be in possession of the vehicle he was driving.

"They [Schwanke-Kasten] locked the door and told me to go away," Henson said in the Instagram post. "After I rang the doorbell twice, everyone went to the back. No [one] answered the door or told me what was going on."

Henson said he told the police he was "just trying to look at a watch," and he was allowed entry only when it became clear to the police that he presented no threat to the employees and "it was safe."

He wrote he "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."

The store owner, Thomas Dixon, told Whitefish Bay Now the employees denied Henson entry in response to an alert they received from the Whitefish Bay police and the incident was a misunderstanding over Henson's vehicle. Police had asked employees to be on the lookout for certain types of cars, Dixon said.

Whitefish Bay Police issued a two-page statement detailing the department's recent interactions with the store and the officers' encounter with Henson. The statement said the department had advised the store to call police if a red Chevrolet Tahoe like Henson's arrived, after one parked outside the store days earlier raised suspicions that its plates were stolen. The statement also said the store had previously been robbed and had closed early Friday after repeated suspicious calls about its closing time.

Henson said in his post that the car was part of an endorsement deal with a Chevrolet dealer.

The police statement said the officers were dispatched to the store Monday afternoon, "as the Red Tahoe had returned." The officers talked to Henson, including questioning him about the dealer plates on his Tahoe, 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, the owner, also later issued a statement to multiple local media outlets. He said 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 in his statement Monday night. Dixon has reached out to the Bucks and hopes to sit down with Henson to "apologize for what he experienced."

The Bucks released a statement Monday afternoon calling the incident "very troubling."

"Nobody should be treated that way," the statement said. "We are trying to contact the store directly."

Henson, the 14th overall pick out of North Carolina in 2012, signed a contract extension with the Bucks earlier this month. The extension is a four-year, $45 million deal that could reach $48 million with incentives. In his third season in the league, Henson averaged 7.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 18 minutes per game.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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