Mount Vernon Mayor Accuses JP Morgan Chase Of Racial Profiling After Cops Are Called On Him
Banking while Black.
April 30, 2019 at 5:18 pm
An embattled New York mayor claims he was racially profiled when he visited a local bank to conduct city business.
Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas accused employees of JP Morgan Chase in White Plains, New York, of calling the police when he attempted to deposit a check into a city account, reports Rockland/Westchester Journal News.
The incident occurred on April 24 when Thomas visited the bank with city Industrial Development Agency President Marilyn Crawford and Mount Vernon Police Detective Jose Centeno. Crawford and Centeno are Black and Hispanic, respectively.
When the police arrived, the bank’s managing director told the officers Thomas was irritable because he was made to wait for a long time. He also said Centeno left to get food and came back but was not allowed in because he was armed. Centeno tried to diffuse the situation by standing in a hallway so "it would not be an issue."
Nonetheless, Thomas was upset his group was “subjected to an extensive waiting time for someone to address us, then a lengthy wait for a call back, then a phone conversation and then more waiting on a call back," according to a letter he wrote to JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon.
News12 reports Thomas complained about the bank’s behavior toward Centeno during a press conference on Monday.
"And one person said he has a gun, and it was kind of like, ‘What? What?’ Because when we came we announced who we were,” he said. “We made it clear that the mayor travels with security for security purposes,” Thomas said.
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The mayor described how the encounter affected him as a Black man in his letter to Dimon.
"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. He also held a press conference on Monday to discuss the issue.
JP Morgan Chase spokesman Joseph Evangelisti said the employees “acted appropriately.” Thomas’ grievance was attributed to a reported feud with the city’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. He has accused comptroller Deborah Reynolds of denying him access to the city’s bank accounts. A judge eventually ordered Reynolds to grant Thomas access after a court battle. Thomas claims he visited the bank to ensure the court order was followed. Reynolds has defied the order because she is currently working on an appeal.
Thomas is currently awaiting trial for charges, including stealing campaign funds and failing to report funds he received from his inaugural committee and several other sources. If he is convicted of a felony, Thomas would lose his position. He is currently seeking a second term as mayor.
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