A 23-year-old black grocery store worker was handcuffed while he tried to cash his paycheck after one of the bank's employees called police claiming that the check was fake in a shocking instant of racist biasness. The incident is now being referred to as "banking as black." Interestingly, the incident, which was caught on bodycam, happened in Minneapolis, the same place where George Floyd was killed by cops.
Joe Morrow was working as an order picker for UNFI in Hopkins, a suburb of Minneapolis, when he tried to cash his $900 paycheck at a branch of US Bank when the manager though he had come with a fake paycheck. Although the incident happened last year, it came to light only last week after the bank's manager apologized.
Bodycam footage obtained by a local news station captures the moment Morrow goes into a bank and tries to cash his paycheck last year in October. Morrow was carrying a $900 paycheck at a US Bank branch in Columbia Heights when the bank's manager John Askwith suspected that the check might be fraudulent.
He is then seen hauled him into a room for questioning before the officers arrived and placed him in handcuffs. The entire incident was filmed on bodycam footage that was released by KSTP this week after Morrow reached a private settlement with the bank.
Interestingly, when Morrow was being harassed and heckled by officers and other bank employees, the bank's manager confirmed with Morrow employer only to find out that the check was real and that Morrow was not faking anything.
However, by that time Morrow had already been subjected enough embarrassment as was marched out in front of other customers in the bank and was made to feel like he was a "criminal" by Sergeant Justin Pletcher of the Columbia Heights Police Department.
No Help from Police
Morrow can be constantly trying to prove that his paycheck isn't fake but the police are in no mood to believe him. Instead, they belive what the manager claimed. The cops can be heard warning him: ''I need you to calm down. Don't say anything stupid, because you're going to get arrested for it."
Morrow was later told by officers that he had been arrested because others had been coming into the bank with fake checks with UNFI's logo on it, and that he had to wait for the bank manager to verify that his was real.
"They're making fake checks with that logo all right. So what the branch manager has to do is call and make sure it's a good check. I need you to stay calm for this because when you start acting like this, it makes you look guilty," Pletcher can be heard saying.
Morrow replied: "But I am not guilty."
Pletcher shot back: "No no, I know. I'm saying when you start getting upset and irate. It makes you look guilty."
Interestingly all this happened despite Morrow having an account with the bank and showed his ID to the teller. At the end, Morrow was released after the bank confirmed with his employer that the check was real.
The incident came to light only lats week after US Bank paid him an undisclosed settlement. The CEO of the bank also apologized to Morrow for the incident. However, it is unclear what happened to Askwith, the bank's manager or if if anyone has been fired over the incident
In an interview with local outlet KSTP, Morrow said the bank teller told him that "you people always' try to cash fake checks - a phrase he took to mean black people.
"When I got handcuffed, everybody is looking. I was handcuffed. Like I'm a criminal or something, like I am doing something bad. I didn't threaten him. I got up," he said.
The incident has been slammed by anti-racism advocates who say it would never have happened to a white person.