A black New York mayor claims he was the target of racial profiling after bank employees called police on him while deposit a city check, along with another black city official and a Hispanic detective.
Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas told reporters Monday that a JPMorgan Chase employee called police on him after he attempted to deposit a six-figure check a week ago, along with his chief of staff and a Mount Vernon police detective working a security detail, reported the Daily Voice.
“As a mayor and as a young, well-educated black man living during this turbulent time in society where police are being called on black people for going about everyday life, this is unacceptable,” Thomas wrote in a letter to Chase CEO Jamie Dimon. “We’ve seen this happen to two black men at a Starbucks in Philadelphia. We’ve also seen this happen to Oregon Rep. Janelle Bynum while she was campaigning. Now it happened to me.”
The mayor went to the bank offices to deposit a check into the city's accounts, although checks are not accepted at commercial banks like the one he visited, to enforce a recent court order requiring Comptroller Deborah Reynolds to give him access to the city's bank records.
Thomas and Reynolds, who is also black, are involved in a heated dispute over the city's finances, and must co-sign city checks, reported Lohud.com.
The mayor has complained that he has been denied access to the city's bank records by Reynolds and her predecessor, and he says the bank has not allowed him access to the city's financial transactions.
Thomas said he waited 90 minutes in a conference room before he was allowed to see a senior vice president at Chase, and he said bank employees evaded questions, but he ordered food for them while they waited.
The detective went downstairs to meet the delivery, and bank officials said police were called after an employee noticed the plainclothes detective's service weapon.
"Our staff acted appropriately," said bank spokesman Joseph Evangelisti, who said police never went upstairs and left after recognizing the detective.
A spokesman for Thomas said the response by White Plains police was resolved amicably after one of the responding officers recognized the Mount Vernon detective, but the mayor believes race played a factor in the incident.
"No one should go to the bank and be told the cops are coming because you are here,” Thomas said.