Racial profiling is one of the most widespread modes of institutionalized racism. With terms like “driving while black” and “banking while black” becoming popularized people are well aware of this rampant stereotyping and harassment of people of color. And Paul McCown is just one name among many.
After working with a new employer for around a month Paul McCown visited his bank wanting to cash his first paycheck. However, the situation that presented itself was very different. Instead of receiving the money that was rightfully his, he was arrested.
Here is a man who has done nothing wrong. But is being persecuted against simply for being a person of color. So let us present the facts of the situation.
Paul McCown joined an electrical company. After working there for a month he received his first paycheck. So on the first of December, he took a $1000 check to Huntington Bank looking to cash it. As a new customer, he was required to provide 2 documents for official identification and fingerprint identification. And he was quick to give all three.
However, the bank’s employees mistrusted McCown. And since they had no objective reason to do so public opinions holds that it was because Paul is a black man. The bank attempted to verify the check by calling his employer but said employer did not pick up. Resultantly they refused to give McCown his money. Dismayed he left the bank. But then the situation took a turn for the worst.
As he was leaving his path was blocked by a police cruiser. The officers told him to exit his vehicle. Apparently, a bank employee had dialed 911 filing a complaint about “attempting to cash a fraudulent check”.
The inspectors handcuffed and took Paul McCown into police custody. They then contacted his employer. And only after verifying that he was indeed employed by the company, and had received a check with that amount was McCown let go. The man was forced to go to another brank for the bank to get his money.
Naturally, the entire incident was a public relations nightmare. And the bank was forced to issue a statement declaring how essential it was that all their customers feel welcome. However, they took complete responsibility for and defended the actions of their employees.
Commending their employees’ vigilance a spokesperson for Huntington Bank encouraged people to look at the statistics. Scott Mielke – chief of the Brooklyn police department – states over a dozen recorded cases of attempts to cash fraudulent checks at Huntington Bank in the past 6 months.
Paul McCown disagrees, citing himself as another victim of racial profiling. He is demanding an apology from the bank, as well as, a change in policy regarding how they treat customers of color. And with examples like Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson in the news, he has a case. These were men who were arrested for trespassing though they were only waiting inside a Starbucks coffee shop in Philadelphia.
Additionally, there have been countless other reports of people of color being targeted for no reason at all. For example, the police have been called on black people babysitting, walking with their multiethnic children, mowing lawns, using public swimming pools, and even entering their own homes.
Add to this racial profiling by the police who tend to treat people of color more harshly than normal protocol and these incidents can have violent consequences. According to Georgetown Professor Paul Butler, unnecessary 911 calls against people of color can lead to African Americans getting harassed, beaten up and even killed. Not to mention the mental trauma associated with having to justify your existence as a minority in an unsafe space.
Paul McCowns’ situation is very similar to that of Satara Monroe’s. Monroe is an African American woman who sued her bank – Wells Fargo – after they wrongly accused her of attempting to cash a fraudulent check. And that of Barbara Carroll another African American woman discriminated against by a bank.