Milwaukee Bucks player John Henson alleges racial discrimination at Whitefish Bay jewelry store

Oct. 20, 2015 12:10 p.m.

Whitefish Bay – Milwaukee Bucks player John Henson claims he was the victim of racial discrimination at a Whitefish Bay jewelry store Monday.

In this Instagram post, the 6-foot, 11-inch center/forward said he went to Schwanke-Kasten Jewelry, 417 E. Silver Spring Dr. during regular business hours Monday. To his surprise, store employees locked the door and told him to go away. He said he rang the doorbell twice, but did not get an answer.

Shortly afterward, the Bucks player said two Whitefish Bay police officers questioned him about his vehicle, which was part of his endorsement deal with Kunes Country Chevrolet. They asked him why he was at the store, and he said he wanted to look at a watch. The officer then went in the back of the store, and told the employees they could come out from the back of the store, Henson said.

“This was one of the the most degrading and racially prejudice things I’ve ever experienced in life and wouldn’t wish this on anyone,” Henson wrote.

Henson’s Instagram post has sparked a surge of criticisms against Schwanke-Kasten on social media.

Tom Dixon, the president of Schwanke-Kasten Jewelry, said in a statement that he has met Henson before, and there is no excuse for how the Bucks player was treated.

“John Henson is a valued member of the Bucks basketball organization and a valued member of the Milwaukee community,” he said. “We believe that everyone – professional athlete or not – deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. I have reached out to the Bucks organization and hope to sit down directly with John Henson to look one another in the eye, shake hands, and apologize for what he experienced.”

Dixon said the employees’ reaction was based on a security scare that occurred on Friday. The jewelry store has also been robbed in recent years.

On Friday, a store employee said they received phone calls on Thursday and Friday inquiring how much of a specific type of merchandise was in stock, as well as the store’s closing time. As a precaution, the employee closed the store 30 minutes early and notified the Whitefish Bay Police Department.

As the store was closing, a Whitefish Bay police officer parked in front of the jewelry store. The officer saw a red Chevrolet Tahoe park in front of the store, and then four individuals walked up to the door. The lights in the store were turned off, but the four people talked with an employee inside the store, according to the police department.

The officer noted the Tahoe had dealer plates that were not registered to the vehicle. Police contacted the dealer, but an employee at the dealership did not recognize the vehicle or the occupants. The officer asked the car dealership employee how a person could acquire these dealer plates, and the employee said it’s possible somebody stole the plates, according to the police department.

The officer informed a Schwanke-Kasten employee that the the plates were potentially stolen, and that they should call the police if the vehicle returns.

On Sunday, Dixon requested Whitefish Bay police provide extra watch at his store, due to a recent burglary at a Green Bay store that sells Rolex watches. When the Red Tahoe returned at 1:20 p.m. Monday, store employees called the police.The employees kept the store locked, as it always is during business hours. An officer ran the license plate, and the computer system said there was no vehicle attached to the plates.

Whitefish Bay police officers talked with Henson, who said he was there to buy his first Rolex. Henson said every time he tries the door, it’s locked and they don’t let him in the store. One of the officers asked him about his dealer plates, and Henson said Bucks players get vehicles from the dealership.

 

The officer called dispatch to request that a Schwanke-Kasten employee come to the front door. The employee requested that an officer come to the back door, and then the officer informed the employee that the man plays for the Bucks. The employee requested that an officer stand by as Henson looked at Rolexes, but the officers refused and left the store, according to police.

 

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