Bank Apologizes For Calling Police On Black Man Who Was Trying To Cash His Paycheck

Written by Ann Brown

In 2018, Black people have had the police called on them while they were: sitting in Starbucks, babysitting children, playing golf, staying at an Airbnb, making a call in a hotel lobby, and napping on a couch in a college dorm — just to name a few.

Now a man in the Cleveland suburb of Brooklyn, Ohio, has had the police called on him while he was trying to cash his paycheck.

“Paul McCowns, 30, told CNN affiliate WOIO he recently got a new job and was trying to cash his first paycheck earlier this month, but the tellers wouldn’t cash the check, which was just over $1,000,” CNN reported.

Photo by Etienne Martin on Unsplash

When Huntington Bank was unable to reach McCowns’ employer to verify the check, bank employees called police on McCowns, who is not a customer of the bank. As per the bank’s policy, McCowns did provide two forms of identification as well as his fingerprint.

According to NBC, McCowns had already departed the bank empty handed when the police arrived. They police handcuffed him and he was briefly detained until the police could verify the authenticity of the check with McCowns’ employer. Inistally, McCowns was unaware the bank called the police.

“We were called to the bank on the report of a fraudulent check. We were given a description of the individual. When we arrived the male was leaving in his vehicle. He was not arrested but he was detained until our officers could figure out what was going on,” Brooklyn Police Chief Scott Mielke said in a statement obtained by CNN.

The branch told the The Washington Post  they have had a number of fraud incidents. And, Chief Mielke told the Post that “police have made at least 10 fraud arrests in connection with the branch since July.”

An in interview with Cleveland 19 News, McCowns said the incident was “highly embarrassing” and that he believed he was profiled.

Huntington Bank issued a full apology that read:

“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.”

Apology or not, social media has picked up the story and the hashtag #BankingWhileBlack has joined #BarbecuingWhileBlack, #BabysittingWhileBlack, and #CampaigningWhileBlack.