Even depositing your own money into a bank can now land you and your entire family in jail if you are a person of color or a Muslim living in the United States — or so it seems.
Sattar Ali, an Iraqi-American doctoral student living in Wichita, Kansas, said the police racially profiled and unlawfully detained him and his family after he went to a local bank and attempted to deposit a check from the sale of his old house in Michigan.
Ali, who came to the United States in 1993, said the check was for nearly $151,000 and that he had provided all required documents for verification, including the information from the company that issued the check. However, it seems even that was not enough for the authorities — both the bank and the local law enforcement — to keep their apparent biases in check.
Nearly 15 police cars reportedly showed up at the Emprise Bank and the officers arrested Ali, who later discovered his wife, Hadil, and their 15-year-old daughter, Hawra, were also detained and waiting for him in the backseat of a police car. The man said the cops also called his 11-year-old son’s school to inform them of the family’s arrest.
“No one told me why I was being arrested until we were being released. They didn’t read me rights or anything,” Ali told the Wichita State’s student newspaper The Sunflower. “We were devastated. Terrified. Crying the whole time. We had no idea what the arrest was for.”
Apparently, the bank had trouble verifying the check and alerted the police, who according to Ali, only tried to verify the check after they had arrested his family.
“They jumped to conclusions because the check was presented by someone named Sattar Ali, not James or Robert,” Ali said.
The police held the family in separate cells and released them some three and a half hours later, once they confirmed the check was not fraudulent.
While the entire incident appears to be a gross violation of rights, Ali told the Sunflower how his wife and daughter’s arrests particularly troubled him.
“Let’s assume I made a mistake and gave them a bad check. Why would they arrest my wife and daughter?” he added. “How would they know those people are with me? The only reason I can think of is racial profiling. We have some discrimination issues.”
Ali, whose entire family are legal citizens, said it was the first time he felt so unwelcome in the city.
“I would expect this in the 1950s. Not now,” he continued. “I don’t want people to feel sad for me. I just want people to be aware that we have an issue. This shouldn’t be a product of 21st century.”
Thumbnail/Banner: Pixabay, 3839153