The list of things black people can do without having the cops called on them grows ever shorter. After an incident in Brooklyn, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, we can add “cash their paychecks” to the running tally.
On December 1, according to Cleveland 19 News, Paul McCowns visited his local Huntington Bank to cash a paycheck from his first three weeks at a new job with the electric company:
“I had got a new job. I worked there for about three weeks.”
After successfully providing two forms of ID, McCowns gave the bank his fingerprint, which is standard procedure for non-Huntington members who wish to withdraw money at a Huntington bank. According to McCowns, the Huntington employees began gathering around a computer, questioning his check’s validity:
“They tried to call my employer numerous times. He never picked up the phone.”
So, based on this days news, the answer from you to the question “when should our tellers call the police even if a person has two forms of ID?” is “when the customers skin is not white.” Shame!— Knuwho (@Knuwho) December 18, 2018
The tellers then informed McCowns they couldn’t cash his check (for just over $1,000). He left without making a scene. When he tried to pull out of the parking lot, however, he was stopped by police:
“I get in my truck and the squad car pull in front of me and he says get out the car.”
Right, like trying to cash a check over $1000 while black!Ya’ll rather believe its a fraudulent check instead.Where’s the apology for Paul McCown of Cleveland.— Crystal King (@Crystal24195303) December 19, 2018
It turns out that as McCowns was leaving the bank, employees at the Huntington were calling 9-1-1 on him. In a recording of that call, one of the tellers tells the 9-1-1 dispatcher:
“He’s trying to cash a check and the check is fraudulent. It does not match our records.”
They made a fraudulent 911 call and lied about someone else’s check matching their records. The @Huntington_Bank tellers and managers should be prosecuted.— ThirtyBirdy™ (@10Plus20Birdy) December 19, 2018
After spending several minutes under arrest in the back of a police car, the officers were able to contact McCowns’ employer and confirm the validity of his check.
“My employer said, ‘Yes he works for me. He just started and yes, my payroll company does pay him that much.’”
I hope he sues— Knowledge Supreme (@KnowledgeSupre3) December 19, 2018
McCowns believes he was the victim of racial discrimination. In a statement from Huntington, the bank claims its employees were being “hyper-vigilant” of fraud due to the high number of criminal occurrences at that location in the last few months (11).
So, the bank called the police and put this man’s life in danger before they could prove the check was authentic? More BS. Identify the tellers! We need to know if they are still employed there.— Jeanette (@bbygrl247) December 18, 2018
The internet is furious at Huntington for their actions:
Apology is not enough @Huntington_Bank. You put this man’s life on the line. Those employees need to face consequences.— Mo (@donthityourbro) December 19, 2018
@Huntington_Bank So does a Black man need to bring his employer with him when he goes to cash a check? Should he be calling his job BEFORE he goes to the bank so that they know they're on their way? Asking for a friend. #HuntingtonBank #BankingWhileBlack— Scrappee (@WhiteBeltChron) December 19, 2018
Huntington Bank has a long history of racism... this is just the latest example. Huntington Bank should be ashamed of themselves! Absolutely disgusting!! #BoycottHuntingtonBank— Dr. Samuel Johnson (@TestingMyFunny) December 18, 2018
"...at Huntington Bank in the Cleveland suburb of Brooklyn...tellers confirmed he showed two forms of id and a fingerprint...employees called 911 and a police car pulled in front of his truck before he could drive away." HANDCUFFED for being black! Bank won't even apologize!! https://t.co/3gCX6fIQ0R— Indie Media Hub (@IndieMediaHub) December 18, 2018
Well I hope he gets a second, much larger check from the bank via the court system.— Ghostwriter (@Rock83654368) December 20, 2018
Huntington offered an apology in their official statement:
“We sincerely apologize to Mr. McCowns for this extremely unfortunate event. We accept responsibility for contacting the police as well as our own interactions with Mr. McCowns. Anyone who walks into a Huntington branch should feel welcomed. Regrettably, that did not occur in this instance and we are very sorry. We hold ourselves accountable to the highest ethical standards in how we operate, hire and train colleagues, and interact with the communities we have the privilege of serving.”
McCowns is looking for an apology from the bank and he would like the tellers involved to be held accountable. Huntington claims they’ve made several attempts to reach McCowns, but that he has not returned their calls.