“I am hiding in the office. I don’t want them to see me out there.”
That’s what a store employee at Schwanke-Kasten Jeweler told a 911 dispatcher last week, after becoming alarmed by the presence of four black men, one of whom was Milwaukee Bucks forward John Henson, who were attempting to enter the Wisconsin jewelry store to buy a Rolex.
The police recordings, which were released on Monday, first began on October 16 when Henson phoned the store to inquire about its closing hours. Convinced the voice on the other end of the line couldn’t possibly belong to a “legitimate customer,” the store employee alerted 911. Here’s what the worker said, transcribed by NBC Milwaukee:
Store Employee: We just had a couple suspicious phone calls lately at this store, and we were just wondering if for the next hour, one of the Whitefish Bay cops could park in front of the store until we close.
911 Operator: What were the phone calls about?
Store Employee: They were just asking about what time they’re going to close. They just didn’t sound like they were legitimate customers.
When Henson and his friends arrived later that day, they were surprised to discover the store was already closed for the day. Unbeknownst to Henson, a police officer was also stationed nearby. The officer ran his vehicle plates and was unable to confirm the owner of the car.
Henson tried again a few days later, much to the employee’s panic.
Store Employee: The officer told us if they came back, we’re supposed to call again. They’re at our front door now and we’re not letting them in. I am hiding in the office. I don’t want them to see me out there. We’re pretending like we’re closed. They’re looking in the window. They’re just kind of pacing back and forth. I don’t feel comfortable letting them in. I just really don’t at all.
Soon after police identified Henson, he publicized the incident with a message speaking out against racial profiling in a since-deleted Instagram. Just add it to the seemingly unending list of things you can’t do while black—whether you are a professional athlete or not.
You can listen to the 911 calls in their entirety below: