JPMorgan Chase is refuting claims from a mayor in Westchester who is claiming he was the target of racial profiling for “banking while black” at a local Chase Bank in White Plains.
Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas said that police were called to a JP Morgan Chase office on Westchester Avenue on Thursday, April 25, while he was waiting to see a bank official.
According to an email from one of Thomas’ spokespeople, bank officials summoned the police on him, his chief of staff, and a Mount Vernon Police detective as Thomas sought access to Mount Vernon’s online banking records.
“The response by the White Plains Police Department was resolved amicably after one of the responding officers recognized the Mount Vernon Police detective,” press advisor Lou Migliore stated. “Mayor Thomas believes that race played a role in the Chase employees calling the police. The two staffers who accompanied Mayor Thomas are black and Hispanic.”
“As a mayor and as a young, well-educated black man living during this turbulent time in society where police are being called on black people for going about everyday life, this is unacceptable,” Thomas wrote in a letter to Chase CEO Jamie Dimon. “We’ve seen this happen to two black men at a Starbucks in Philadelphia. We’ve also seen this happen to Oregon Rep. Janelle Bynum while she was campaigning. Now it happened to me.”
A JPMorgan spokesperson painted a different picture, saying that the mayor’s complaint came as part of his larger ongoing battle with City Comptroller Deborah Reynolds.
According to JPMorgan, the mayor claimed that he was coming into the bank - which is a commercial branch - without an appointment to cash a check for the city. During the visit, an employee saw that a member of his security detail had a gun and was prompted to alert authorities.
The spokesperson said that the security member identified himself as part of the mayor’s detail and officers never entered the building. The mayor also did not have a check with him at the time of the incident. Thomas said that he has plans to file a formal complaint with Chase, and a press conference has been announced for Monday afternoon, when the mayor is expected to divulge more details.
The embattled mayor has been at odds with several city officials over recent months, recently accusing the City Council of “robbing Peter to pay Paul.” He’s also had a well-documented battle with City Comptroller Deborah Reynolds over city funds, alleging that she hadn’t opened up the city’s books to his office, leading to a court decision in his favor.
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