Local civil rights group demands accounts of US bank after racial discrimination incident

Courtesy of Google Street View

A recent report by KSTP News helped shed light on a blatant racially motivated attack on a black US Bank customer that took place last year – following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

Joe Morrow, a young black working-class man, went to the US Bank in Columbia Heights with the intention of cashing a check for $ 900 from his employer.

Instead of being treated like a human being, Mr. Morrow was racially profiled by branch manager John Askwith and charged with attempting to cash a fraudulent check. The bank manager claimed to have verified that Mr. Morrow’s check was fake, stereotyped Mr. Morrow and all black people that they were always trying to cash fake checks, and called the police against Mr. Morrow, this which further aggravated the situation.

All of this took place in front of bank customers, which caused Mr. Morrow embarrassment and humiliation and reinforced racial stereotypes that black men are criminals and untrustworthy.

When Columbia Heights Police arrived at the scene, they contributed to the harm and humiliation suffered by Mr. Morrow by showing deference to the bank manager and ultimately putting Mr. Morrow in handcuffs as if he were had committed a crime.

“Just last year, the world was forced to watch the public lynching of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police, based on an allegation he attempted to smuggle a fake $ 20 bill into an establishment. local commercial.

“It is inconceivable that the American bank could fail to learn the lesson that calling the police on a black man for a minor misdemeanor could lead to criminalization, or worse, a death sentence,” said Nekima Levy Armstrong, civil rights lawyer and founder of the Racial Justice Network.

“US Bank is proud to enhance divingrsity, equity and inclusion, yet, he failed to uphold these values ​​in his interactions with a black client who was simply trying to access his hard-earned money. The US bank needs to quickly take responsibility for its actions and publicly address this issue, ”said Sonja Western, teacher and member of the Racial Justice Network.

We ask US Bank to take the following actions:

  1. Publicly accept responsibility for their discrimination against Joe Morrow, apologize and take action to heal him;
  2. Launch an investigation by a third party into the actions of the bank manager who initiated this meeting and this racist discipline and / or dismiss him for his racist actions and comments;
  3. Demand that white officers, directors and employees of American banks participate in anti-racist training; and adjust policies to eliminate and reduce the potential for racial discrimination and prejudice throughout the company;
  4. Develop a reparations initiative to increase home ownership for black clients through more equitable lending practices; and
  5. Refrain from calling the police on black clients in wrongful situations and develop alternative approaches to deal with minor infractions.

We expect the U.S. bank to take these matters seriously and take action to address this serious miscarriage of justice.

The Racial Justice Network (RJN) is a multiracial and grassroots organization committed to fighting for racial justice and building bridges across racial, social and economic boundaries.

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