Where’s Al Sharpton for this?

A few weeks ago I heard about an incident not far from my general location that involved a guy just going into a bank to do some business. There was nothing special about this guy. He was regularly dressed. But he forgot to leave his black skin at home.

I didn’t want to write about the incident right away, waiting to see what would develop. I don’t pull the race card often. I think it’s too easy to do and I hate hearing excuses for bad behavior and ignorance being attatched to the “because I’m black”  factor. But what happened on that seemingly normal trip to the bank is far from racial equality. The gentleman in question, Derrill Ewans, was “mistaken” for a bank-robber. A teller called 9-11 asking for the police and stated Ewans and another gentleman had a gun. Read the gory details here but I will give you a snippet.

“We have two males that walked into our branch, possibility of a gun in his pocket,” the teller said. “He’s sitting down with a personal banker.”

Oh snap. Sound the alarm. A black man wants a LOAN!!! Hit the deck!

A second personal banker then played down the ordeal to the 911 operator and asked for either a plain-clothed officer to take a look or have an officer simply drive by.

The banker told the operator there was not a robbery in progress.

“We’re talking to him about a loan that he’s doing and everything else and one of our tellers thought that he had a weapon on him,” the banker said.

But even though the downplay was in progress. The cops still showed up, handcuffed Ewans and his girlfriend who was waiting in the car with their 3-year-old daughter. They put her and their child in a squad car. I don’t really blame the police. They were doing their job for the most part I guess but I think they should have done some better investigating before slapping on cuffs and humiliating this man and his family.

What else could be the reason for this mishap? Can you see another senario? That side of town isn’t really used to seeing black folks. Trust me. And here, I believe, is a perfect example of racism at it’s finest so where is Mr. Sharpton? Oh yea. He’s been busy in Jena, promoting himself. Look, I’m not saying what happened in Jena should be ignored but let’s not forget those kids committed a crime — no matter the provocation. If we aren’t putting out these “smaller” fires like some innocent guy walking into a damn Wells Fargo, those little flames just become bigger ones and will spread.

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15 responses to this post.

  1. J
    I don’t know how I feel about this. The first thing I would want to know is why did the teller think that one or both of the guys had a gun. This seems central to the story. However, let me ask you this. Question one: if you are on a plane leaving DFW to LAX and saw two suspicious men onboard the plane, do you notify the authorities? Second question: What makes them suspicious? I guess my point is that the lines get blurred on occasion when someone is just trying to do their job. Don’t suspect racism for that. But if the teller doesn’t have a good reason for making the call, then he or she should be fired.

    Reply

  2. Grand: Well the teller has yet to produce a good reason other than thinking the guy “was acting suspicious.” They never said what that meant particularly. However, the correspondence with the person Ewans was dealing with was pleasant. There were no complaints about his behavior. The ANOTHER teller suspected a gun. And there was no reason for the speculation. We later hear that the bank will not comment specifically. And that to me seems like a cover-up. And there is the fact that the second teller was trying to dilute the original 9-11 call.

    I listen to a shock jock out here many would find racist. But I listen to him anyway. He is notorious for being narrow-minded. But on this particular incident, even he thought the issue was about race. I know that isn’t a huge solid backing to my point, but when you’ve got the OTHER side agreeing this is a racial issue, where is all the rallying from Jesse Jackson and Mr. Sharpton? This can easily be seen as an incident about this guy being black.

    Reading my blog I think you can agree I’m not typical in that “it’s because I’m black that I’m not getting my way” crap. But there has YET to be ANY merit to the teller’s claims. And somehow this is starting to just get buried in the other news. And it shouldn’t.

    Reply

  3. Well, seems racist to me. Any customer walking into the branch could be armed. Do they call the police on everyone? Is it standard practice for armed robbers to sit down with the loan officer? Seems to me they’d go to the tellers. You know, where the money is.

    As for the police, yes they need to respond as though there is an armed robbery in progress. But, if Mr. Ewans was not waving a gun around when they entered the branch, and with no other signs the bank was under attack, I can’t help but wonder if cuffing him wasn’t actually going too far. In a domestic dispute, don’t they separate both parties to get both sides of the story and then decide? Sure, pat Mr. Ewans down for officer safety, but to assume he’s guilty on someone else’s mere suspicion seems too much.

    And what about his girlfriend—was she sitting in the driver’s seat as though ready to speed off in the getaway car? If not, what’s the justification for handcuffing her and putting her and the 3-year-old (an obvious accomplice if ever there was one) in the police car? Except, maybe, they were the only Black people in a car by the branch.

    Arm Jerker J, I’m with you. I don’t like the Revs. Sharpton or Jackson; I think they’re both opportunists. The situation in Jena is disgusting and, amazingly, I find myself on the same side as Al Sharpton on it. But you’re right. That’s the high profile case and it’s the kind of everyday travesty perpetrated on Mr. Ewans that really needs fixing.

    Reply

  4. Unfortunately, it is fairly clear to me what the situation is – its something we have been discussing far to often lately. On my site it seems if I’m not ranting about our idiot president and our illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, I am ranting about racism.

    I hope the “teller” closely examines WHY she jumped to the conclusion that the “black” man was a bank robber.

    A black man enters a bank…I guess he should have used the ATM.

    I hope you are well.

    Chris
    http://www.2288beckleyrd.com

    Reply

  5. AJ,

    I think I can say that racially, I don’t think I possess a prejudice bone in my body. However, I find that ignorance and the blatant disregard for education to be far more appalling than basing merit on the amount of melanin (or lack thereof) in one’s skin.

    However, I have to admit that if I were in a Boeing 757, prepping for take off for a flight across the country and two young Middle Eastern looking men came walking down the aisle, I would be very uncomfortable. Why? September 11th, 2001.

    Ok..fine, but I lost no family or friends in the attacks. So, personal experience can’t come into play here…just my abject fear to being in a hijacked plane-turned lawn dart at the hands of some extremely misguided religious zealots. It’s my paranoia—misplaced or not, it’s real..it’s there.

    True, the teller has yet to explain his or her specific reasoning for being “alarmed”. Can personal experience come into play? Perhaps and if that’s the case, I can understand that as an explanation, but it still doesn’t make it right.

    I used to live with a lying cheat of a commercial airline captain. Had my heart AND soul stomped on. Consequently, I won’t EVER do that again, because now I feel that all pilots are lying cheats. Right or wrong, that’s how I feel and its based on personal experience. If that makes me prejudiced, then so be it.

    You’re right, AJ……race isn’t always the reason. Yes, sadly, tragically, sometimes it is.

    And many times it isn’t.

    Good post.

    Reply

  6. We seem to be suffering from a severe form or hypersensitivity right now. I don’t know if racism is to blame for many of the goings on in the various corners of this country right now, so much as it is hypersensitivity thanks to the recent efforts of the media and the government to remind us that supposedly not much has changed since the 1960’s. I don’t know why anybody would think that a black man was a threat to a bank simply by showing up. Is it because we’re being taught that it is bad? I mean, so much of what is going on sounds like 1960 redux, and it’s really beginning to concern me.

    On the other hand, and I’m not trying to downplay anything here, but I’m always skeptical about associating profiling with race, simply because I have been “profiled” and brutally harassed in the past, and I am white as white can be. I did, however, used to dress in a biker jacket with spikes across the shoulders and wear black nail polish etc. I was at a Target store one day and was pulled aside by security and a uniformed police officer and dragged into an interrogation room where I was viciously accused of all sorts of things, simply because I fit some sort of profile for some shoplifters in other stores.

    So there are always many sides to stories, it is important to figure out where people are coming from and why.

    Reply

  7. I just pose one question to you all.

    Have you ever heard of this SAME scenario with a white person or any race for that matter?

    Yes every scenario is different. Everyone has their certain experiences to give reason to prejudice. However I’m only talking about THIS specific incident. How will we solve these sort of problems if we don’t dissect EACH incident as it’s OWN situation. And not compare it to anything. Not even 1960…times of worse racial tension?

    And in this incident I don’t think in the history of our America, has a person of non-black skin been falsely accused of robbing a bank.

    I only speak of this Frisco bank. One guy. And a misguided teller. Nothing else. So what do we do?

    Reply

  8. I can understand one teller being an asshole. If it were just one asshole teller calling the police, and that was the end of the story, I’d only be saddened that such an asshole can function at a high enough level to get a job dealing with the public.
    WTF was up with the cops? You don’t cuff everyone who is reported as ‘suspicious’.
    The cops have brains and are expected to use them.

    I wonder if it didn’t happen a bit more like this:

    Guy walks in, asshole teller calls the cops. Cops come and ask to talk to the guy. Guy freaks out (wouldn’t you?!). Cops tend to arrest people who freak out in banks. Girlfriend sees cops bringing out her b/f in cuffs, and freaks out (again, wouldn’t you?!). She gets cuffed. As for the child, they could hardly just leave her behind by herself.

    I dunno, I guess I’m playing devil’s advocate here. The story seems to be missing something, and that’s the best way I can figure to fill the whole. Still, I think we need to make a big stink about it. We, as bloggers, have a responsibility to keep these things from being swept under the rug. I’ll try to write something about it on RR as well.

    That poor child. How terrified must she have been?!

    Reply

  9. But that’s my point. There’s always more to a story. I find it very hard to believe that somebody simply called the police because a black man entered a bank. How often are we told the whole story? Of course, it is possible that it happened that way, and if so it’s certainly a horrible thing… But I don’t like to jump to assumptions when it comes to things like this based solely on what the media tells us. It’s what I was saying about being hypersensitive. Because this was an incident involving a black man, it automatically becomes a race thing. Would anybody have batted an eye if they guy were white? Would it have been news at all? Be very careful about drawing assumptions before all of the facts are in order.

    Reply

  10. You are so right Arclight. I cannot believe that in this fucked up litigious society that a bank teller—would call the cops simply because a black man walked in the bank. Let’s be honest, criminal element knows no racial barriers. Assholes and thugs exist in every race, every culture.

    And yes, if a white person looked suspicious and a teller called the cops as a result, it would NEVER have made news–not to this extent, anyway. AJ, you’ve said this yourself, the race card is easily dealt and while it has had validity–especially in the past, it continues to grow weaker each year. I think sometimes chips on shoulders weigh down rational thinking…and I mean that with regard to everyone. We as a species have GOT to get over ourselves.

    And if we’re being completely honest here, let’s also admit that ageism, fat prejudice and misogyny/sexism are just as insidious and practiced just as much..if not more.

    Reply

  11. At Laurie: “I think sometimes chips on shoulders weigh down rational thinking…and I mean that with regard to everyone.”

    I don’t have one chip about race, though I know Laurie that you are not saying I do. I’m just proving a point. Most of my racism came from other blacks who didn’t like the way I acted, the music I liked, the people I called friends, the way I dressed and the way I talked. So I’m not super-sensitive to the “race” thing. I just want everyone to know that right off.

    I’m coming from the perspective that this was an incident that has no other factors, as of yet, other than he “looked” suspicious. That chick that was half dressed on Southwest Airlines has a strong case as do other cases like hers where discrimination came in the form of something other than skin. I’m aware that race is just ONE prejudice. I think this hits home for me as a “race” thing because I KNOW FRISCO. I also know other places like it. And even though the race card is really an archaic practice, SOME SITUATIONS ARE RACIALLY CHARGED.

    We can’t forget that there is still ignorance out there about race, size, gender — whatever. In the midst of us trying to get past race, we have to remember that racism and other idiot practices are STILL an issue. And as I say that, still be aware that I hate movements. Hate today’s climate of making everything about race. Hate today’s hypersensitivity as Arch mentioned. But until other news develops, I’m not hanging my hat on another “no, this has nothing to do with race.” Believe me. I’m not a fan of Jackson OR Sharpton. But this seems to be a case where they would have more of a story here than just some face time holding hands with Jena supporters—supporters of six kids who committed a REAL crime.

    Thanks Bagel. I think we still need to spread the word. Point is the guy was deemed innocent after the fact and humiliation. Race or not. This was a travesty.

    All good points…

    Reply

  12. I believe it is a matter of race and if it had been an Arab it could have been even worse – I can see them taking them to the station and questioning him, his girlfried and even neighbors and other family members…just on a suspicion. I’m so sorry this happens and I’m ashamed that it happens and happens regularly. This is not an isolated event at all.

    I’m white but I’ve been with some black people in our car and got stopped and harassed in a big way and I know with certainty that this would not have happened had it just been my husband and I driving through that town.

    Thank you for bringing this topic up for attention.

    Peace and justice – for ALL.
    ~ RS ~

    Reply

  13. I find this story entirely, and depressingly, plausible. And I’d bet money that the folks that think something else is going on are white dudes.

    A while back I had an African-American roommate, and we quickly learned to never go to certain towns together. We would get pulled for a DWB–driving while black. They were convinced it was a car jacking, because there was no other reason they could think of for a white woman to ride around with a guy who wasn’t white.

    Stuff like Jena happened -Every Day- in places like Texas and North Carolina when I was growing up. In Michigan we have a very large Arab-American community, and I constantly see them being hassled, for no reason other than they are the wrong color and (assumed to be) the wrong religion.

    Thanks for bringing this story wider publicity.
    (and the poor kid! she must have been so scared!) 😦

    Reply

  14. Girl yes! I’ve been deciding whether or not to tackle that topic. But seeing how there are so many New Yorkers here, I was gonna let them have that one!
    I could not believe that. But it is Bill. And he says some messed up stuff. And for the record, I always cuss out my waiter/waitress for more red soda.

    Reply

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