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NBA player accuses jewelry store of racial profiling

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Posted at 10:34 PM, Oct 19, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-19 22:34:28-04

On Monday, a Milwaukee Bucks basketball player said he was racially profiled while trying to shop for jewelry.

John Henson posted about his experience on Instagram. The center says he went to Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers in suburban Milwaukee on Monday.

Henson says that when he approached the store, "they locked the door and told me to go away . After I rang the doorbell twice everyone went to the back."

He then claimed that two police cars pulled up and parked across the street, with officers "watching me for 5 minutes."

Henson says officers questioned him about his car.

"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," said Henson on Instagram.

At that point, he claims store employees finally came out to help him.

"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," he said after his description of the event.

"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."

Henson recently signed a four year, $44 million contract with the Bucks.

Bucks spokesperson Jake Suski released the following statement about the incident to TODAY'S TMJ4:

"We've spoken with John about what happened. It's very troubling to all of us. Nobody should be treated that way. We are trying to contact the store directly."

TODAY'S TMJ4 has reached out to Henson, the jewelry store, and the Whitefish Bay Police Department for comment.

Below is his Instagram posting.

 

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 .

A photo posted by @johnhenson31 on

A press release from the Whitefish Bay Police Department has since stated that the jewelry stored had been burglarized over the weekend, and that a vehicle matching the description of Henson's had been spotted near the store on Friday. 

Store owner Tom Dixon, on behalf of Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers, also released a statement responding to the incident Monday night:

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

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. 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.

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.