NAACP: “Closed-door apology” by Schwanke-Kasten president to John Henson “not enough”

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WHITEFISH BAY — The president of the Milwaukee branch of the NAACP is the latest to issue a statement to FOX6 News following allegations of racial profiling by Milwaukee Bucks forward John Henson on Monday, October 19th. Henson said he was profiled while trying to visit the Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers store in Whitefish Bay. Police say what happened at Schwanke-Kasten stemmed from a misunderstanding about the dealer plates on Henson’s vehicle.

John Henson

John Henson

The statement issued by the NAACP on Wednesday, October 21st comes one day after the president of Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers met with Henson and issued an apology to him.

Henson said police were called after the door was locked on him when he tried to enter Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers. He said in a post on Instagram (in part): “They locked the door and told me to go away. After I rang the doorbell twice, everyone went to the back. This was followed by two police cars pulling up.”

Henson was then questioned by officers about his intentions and the vehicle he was driving.

“I never want anyone to go through that,” Henson said on Tuesday. “It was a tough situation — kind of a surreal moment.”

John Henson's post on Instagram

John Henson’s post on Instagram

The statement from the NAACP reads as follows:

“The incident on Monday involving Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers in Whitefish Bay and Milwaukee Bucks player John Henson is most troubling. It is a blatant example of the type of racial profiling and stereotyping that occurs all too often in situations involving retail services, law enforcement and other aspects of life. It is wrong, unlawful and unacceptable and is reflective of underlying biases and perceptions that need to be challenged and addressed if we are serious about providing equal opportunity and access to all.

In the recent matter involving Schwanke-Kasten and Mr. Henson, the victim of the profiling happened to be a professional athlete, a prominent member of a major organization with high visibility both locally and nationally. In this instance, Schwanke-Kasten was very quick to offer a “closed door apology.” However, we know that these types of incidents occur often and usually involve individuals who are not in the public eye. In fact, the Henson matter is not the only incident of which we are aware involving Schwanke-Kasten. In these all-too-common occurrences, there are no apologies. The victim is just left to feel degraded and humiliated as Mr. Henson described.

Based upon the blatant nature of the racial profiling by Schwanke-Kasten in the Henson incident and the fact that we do not believe it is an isolated incident, a “closed-door apology” to Mr. Henson is not enough. Certainly, how this store and its employees handled this matter has affected Mr. Henson, but such an act also undermines and violates the humanity of all citizens. Schwanke-Kasten needs to take some bolder measures to demonstrate its clear acknowledgement of wrongdoing and serious commitment to change. There is a need to take more meaningful measures to overcome these prejudices and biases in our metropolitan area and State, and to demonstrate to the community that serious actions to redress such matters are being taken.

Fred Royal, president

NAACP – Milwaukee branch”

Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers

Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers

The following statement was issued Tuesday by Tom Dixon, president of Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers after he met with Henson:

“I appreciated the opportunity to personally meet with John Henson this morning to look him in the eye, shake hands, and apologize. No one should ever have to experience what he experienced.

We all agree that racial profiling is never acceptable and deeply regret how the circumstances unfolded Friday and Monday.

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.”

Henson had this to say about the meeting and apology:

“It doesn`t make it right.  It’s unfortunate.  I came at the time where things were happening to the store — but at the same time, I think steps could have been taken to prevent what happened (Monday) had someone come to the door and said, ‘can I help you?'” Henson said.

The Instagram post that started it all, posted by Henson on Monday, reads as follows:

“Went to @schwankekasten jewelry today in Whitefish 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 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. 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.”

Whitefish Bay police late on Monday evening released a lengthy statement to FOX6 News. The full statement is just below:

Friday, 10/16/15

3:57pm

On Friday, 10/16/15, the Whitefish Bay Police Department responded to Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers, 417 E. Silver Spring Drive, at 3:57pm for a suspicious activity call. Upon arrival, our officer met with an employee of the store who reported they had received a phone call on Thursday, 10/15/15, between 2:00pm and 3:00pm inquiring as to when they close. The employee told our officer they also received a similar call on 10/16/15, again inquiring as to when they closed. The store’s normal closing time is 5:30pm and the store employee made the decision to close at 5:00pm as a precaution.

Theft History

Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers has been the victim of robberies at their Milwaukee stores in the past 2 years, and there was a theft from their Whitefish Bay store on 9/7/13 when a suspect grabbed four Rolex watches and fled from the store. In the past several years, throughout the upper Midwest, stores that sell Rolex watches have been victims of armed robberies, of which several store employees were hurt in these robberies.

Friday, 10/16/15

4:58pm

Our officer parked directly in front of Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers store in a dark brown unmarked 2014 Chevrolet Tahoe police vehicle. At approximately 4:58pm, our officer observed four individuals walk up to the door. The officer observed the people walk up to the door, but it appeared that the door was locked. He heard discussion between them and an employee inside the store. At this time, the lights in the store were turned off. The officer observed the people get back into the Tahoe, and they drove away. The officer noticed that the Tahoe had a State of Wisconsin issued dealer license plate. The officer queried the state TIME system to ascertain ownership of the vehicle. It listed to a Wisconsin dealership, but not to a specific vehicle.

Friday, 10/16/15

Dealership

Our officer called the dealership and provided an employee with the plate number and a description of the vehicle. The employee stated that the plate listed to a partner dealership and transferred that officer to the other dealership. This person did not recognize the vehicle nor the occupants as being from the dealership. The officer inquired about ways people could get a hold of these type of plates and the employee informed the officer that they ship many cars to Chicago and it’s possible somebody stole the plates.

My officer called the Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers employee back and informed her that he had spoken to the dealership with whom the plates are listed. He informed the employee that the dealership was running low on plates and that the plates were potentially stolen, but that they were not listed as stolen. He advised the employee that if the vehicle came back, to call the station.

Sunday 10/18/15

11:21am

On Sunday, 10/18/15, 11:21am, Tom Dixon, the owner of Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers, came to our station and spoke with an officer to report that a Green Bay store that sells Rolex watches was burglarized overnight. He provided our officer with a surveillance photo from that incident of a white male in a mask. He requested extra watch as his store when it opened Monday, 10/19/15.

Monday, 10/19/15

1:20pm

On Monday, 10/19/15 at 1:20pm, Whitefish Bay officers were dispatched to Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers as the 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 the Bucks players get vehicles from this dealership. Neither officer asked Henson or his companion for drivers 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 Bucks player, 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.

At no time did Whitefish Bay police make any notice to merchants on Silver Spring because of these incidents.

~Michael D. Young

Whitefish Bay Police Chief

In June 2012, Henson was selected with the 14th overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft by the Milwaukee Bucks. On October 19, 2013, the Bucks exercised their third-year team option on Henson’s rookie scale contract, extending the contract through the 2014–15 season.

In October 2014, the Bucks exercised their fourth-year team option on Henson’s rookie scale contract, extending the contract through the 2015–16 season.

In October 2015, Henson signed a four-year, $45 million contract extension with the Bucks.

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10 comments

  • Opinion8d

    The NAACP says it’s not enough – well then, what is??? Give a Rolex to every needed hood rat? What about bars on peoples/business windows in high crime areas -doesn’t that humiliate people??? Take a look in the mirror and address problems in your community! When the MPS graduation rate improves and crime falls, then let us know what ‘we’ can do for ya’ll….

  • Mike Johnson

    the facts of life are not racist. when so much crime overall is committed by black males its pretty hard not to judge somebody, and im sure the jeweler would rather have the backlash of racial profiling than have their store robbed and their employees potentially harmed. like opinion said when grad rates go up and crime goes down lets revisit this subject, until then businesses must be alert.

    • PleaseRead

      Last person who robbed them were white. I mean, if that’s the case then white males are the ones sexually molest children at higher rates and commit mass shootings. Does that mean that the police should be called when I see a white man around children or see a white male in a crowded place?

  • T

    Try working at a jewelry store for awhile and your opinion will change, everyone gets profiled, black white Hispanics green blue and gray. There doors are always locked. Why does everything turn to race? Ignorance I guess. Also why didn’t John think of calling ahead to say I’m headed down there like most of their customers do?? If he did that this wouldn’t be a news story

  • ghetto expat

    It doesn’t matter what that organization says. They along with democratic machine have fed the poverty and entitlement mentality to their people and kept them down. They need to address unwed single baby momma and missing fathers that create little felons. Their is NO EDUCATION OR DIRECTION IN THE INNER CITY. 30 year old grandma with 3 or 4 baby momma under her belt is not something to be proud of. Blacks in the inner city have failed themselves. I know i’ve been there.

  • wth

    The matriculation rate in milwaukee public schools is atrocious. Naacp needs to do some advancing in the inner city and quit worrying about immature millionaire bucks players and their watches along with a business that is looking out for the lives of their employees. Nothing else to say except black liberals have destroyed themselves from within and this is a perfect example where they should have chimed in and said it was a security issue with the store and had nothing racist about it. People will quit profiling when blacks quit running around ransacking stores and pulling their pants off their arses.

  • Catalyst

    At least they’re alive to face the scrutiny. High end jewelry stores usually keep their door locked to prevent a smash and grab and they’re within their right to refuse service to anyone, this pc bs is out of hand. He probably picked a predominantly white neighborhood in hopes something like this would happen and the bucks su*k.

    • Matt

      One question. After identifying who he was ,what was the mental state of the employee to need the cops to stand there while he looked at the watches ???

  • Julie

    I don’t think the employees were wrong by any means. Unfortunately this is the world you live in now days. They thought something was suspicious so they called for protection, isn’t that what the police are there for? If they didn’t call, and this bucks player was actually an armed robber who came to steal and shot them dead, it would be no skin off anyone else’s back and people would read the sad story and move on with their lives. If I worked there and was scared, I would do the same thing wether it was a white, black, purple or green person at my door.

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