Milwaukee Bucks center John Henson alleged last week that he was a victim of racial discrimination by Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin when he attempted to shop at the store to buy a new Rolex. The newly-released audio of the store's 911 call, via The Root, lends some credence to Henson's accusations.
A store employee initially called police on Friday, Oct. 16, after some calls were made to the store (presumably by Henson) to find out what time they closed. That store employee told police the calls were "suspicious" and that they "didn't sound like they were legitimate customers." The police report filed last Tuesday said there was concern about recent robberies in the past few years, which led to the store closing a half hour earlier as a precaution.
Henson and three others then came to the store right at closing in a red Chevy Tahoe the Bucks big man said he received as part of an endorsement deal. The vehicle had dealer plates on it, so the store employee and police worried the car was stolen. The police report and recordings stated that an officer looked into the plates and couldn't confirm ownership of the vehicle, so he called the store back to say the plates could've been stolen and that they should call back if the Tahoe returned.
The store did just that when Henson showed up last Monday. As Henson waited outside a locked front door, the employee told police the store wouldn't open its doors for him and assumed his plates were indeed stolen thanks to what the officer had said the previous Friday.
When pressed by the 911 dispatcher to confirm the kind of car Henson had driven to the store, the employee said she wasn't sure because she was hiding in the back office:
"I don't see it. I'm hiding in the office. I don't want them to see me out there. We're pretending like we're closed. So no one is on the floor. We're not opening the door. We're just staying in the back."
The employee went on to say that she didn't "feel comfortable" letting Henson in and that "it seems bad." In the background, you can hear Henson ringing the doorbell and the caller telling other store employees to "stay out of view."
Police showed up and questioned Henson, and after he explained himself, the officers requested the store employee who'd called earlier come to the front door to meet them. She refused:
"Why? I don't feel like it. Why do I have to come to the door? Can the officer come to the back? I'm not going to the front door."
Police went to the back door, and Henson was finally allowed into the store to shop for his Rolex. He shared his story in a since-deleted Instagram post with the following message.
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.
Schwanke-Kasten owner Tom Dixon offered Henson an in-person apology, which he accepted.
Despite the apology and explanation for the suspicion, Henson was adamant that the situation shouldn't have played out like it did. The language used by the store employee in the 911 tapes sure seem to support his suspicion of racial profiling.