Police

Ohio Police Handcuff Black Man for Trying to Cash His Paycheck

In the absence of evidence, an innocent man was treated like a criminal.

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Paul McCowns is rightly upset over a "highly embarrassing" incident where he was allegedly racially profiled and eventually handcuffed for trying to cash his paycheck.

McCowns, who is black, recently started a new job at an electric company and decided to cash his first paycheck at a Huntington Bank branch in Brooklyn, Ohio, on December 1. McCowns is not a customer of the bank, but per company policy, non-clients can cash checks at Huntington branches if they provide a fingerprint.

McCowns gave his fingerprint, as well as his driver's license and Social Security card. That wasn't enough. "They tried to call my employer numerous times. He never picked up the phone," McCowns told WOIO of the bank workers. Once it became clear they wouldn't cash his check, McCowns left. Little did he know that someone from the bank had called police. "He's trying to cash a check and the check is fraudulent. It does not match our records," a bank employee can be heard saying in a recording of the 911 call obtained by WOIO.

Before he could drive away, McCowns told WOIO that a police car "pull[ed] in front of" him, and a cop told him to get out of the car. McCowns was handcuffed and detained in the squad car until police could confirm his employment and paycheck amount with the company he works for.

Police let him go, and McCowns claimed he successfully cashed his check for $1,082 at a different Huntington Bank branch the next day. But the whole situation left him feeling humiliated. "It was highly embarrassing, highly embarrassing," he told WOIO. "It hurts. It really hurts."

The bank has since issued a public apology. Brooklyn Police Chief Scott Mielke, meanwhile, told The Washington Post that police have arrested at least 10 people for trying to cash fake checks at that branch since July. Reason reached out to Mielke for clarification on the department's policy on detaining people like McCowns, but we have yet to hear back. (We will update this story if we do.)

McCowns' case is a good example of how institutional racism can screw over innocent people. I can understand that the bank employees were worried about fraudulent checks. But the fact that they singled out McCowns, whose only "crime" was not being a customer, suggests he was profiled based on the color of his skin. This culminated in one employee calling 911 and falsely claiming that his check was fraudulent.

Police had no choice but to respond. However, putting McCowns in handcuffs was completely unnecessary. While they had a tip that he had done something wrong, there was absolutely no evidence to back that up. It's also highly unlikely McCowns posed enough of a threat to warrant him being detained. So why did police have to escalate what should have been a non-incident in the first place?

Unfortunately, this case is not unique. In September, I wrote about Akil Carter, a black Wisconsin teenager driving home from church with his white grandmother. Two busybodies alerted police that a potential robbery could be taking place, so officers pulled the car over and put Carter in handcuffs. And in October, a black military veteran was cuffed on his own property by Kansas police, who apparently thought it was suspicious that he was moving a TV into his new house.

Ultimately, no one was physically hurt in any of these cases. But in the absence of evidence, police seem to have a tendency to treat innocent black people like criminals and needlessly escalate the situation. And that can be nothing short of humiliating.

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  1. I used to think there was a racial angle to these cases. But the more you know about cops, the more obvious it is that they do this kind of shit to everyone regardless of race. In some ways we would be better off if cops were racist. At least them some people would be safe from them. As it is, no one is safe.

    1. Yeah, its never been a race thing, its a power thing.

      1. I fear I must disagree. I think that there is a racial element. Sure the cops do this kind of thing to a lot of people, but people call the cops on brown folks more often than on pale folks. And I think that has to do with how nobody is allowed to talk about racial stats and crime. So the perception comes that something is being hidden (it is) and people overreact.

        *shrug*

        Of course, if the brown people want to fight this, they need to start coming down with cleats on the feral idiots who share their skin tone. And so long as Black Quislings like Al “If I were White I’d be a Klansman” Sharpton are preying on the brown communities, that won’t happen.

        1. So until individuals A – J – who follow the law, pay taxes, and are otherwise decent folk – somehow control the actions of individuals K – V, they deserve to be collectively punished as a single group?

          Okay, sure.

          1. What about individuals W – Z? Are they living in some libertarian utopia where they are left alone and are not expected to control the actions of other people?

        2. The only place where race comes in to it is that in many communities its the minorities that are most visibly powerless.

          In places where there aren’t a lot of non-whites the same shit happens to trailer-living rednecks.

        3. “brown folks”

          Every single person who I have ever heard use this term proved themselves to be an asshole.

        4. To be fair. The brown folk, your words, also create a disproportionate amount of crimes, especially if the violent manner ,FBI statistics. So wouldn’t they be called on more?

          1. Don’t bring logic into this! The fact that blacks are something like 10-20 times more likely per capita to commit lots of crimes has NO BEARING ON ANYTHING. It’s not like I’ve had several attempted muggings in my life, and every single time it was a non white person or anything… Despite living in a city that was ~80% white until the last few years, and is still something like 90% + white/Asian… Keeping in mind none of the non white people that tried to mug me were Asian either…

            No, no, no. Can’t trust statistics or your own lying eyes. It’s ALL racism, plain and simple.

    2. So where’s the story about the white dude being arrested for trying to cash his legitimate paycheck? Don’t see it.

      1. A white dude probably wouldn’t run to the media claiming to be a victim, and if he did nobody would give a shit because cops picking on the melanin-challenged doesn’t sell.

      2. Well, I’ve had a bank refuse to cash a check for me before, for not being able to jump enough hoops for them. As suggested above, I didn’t make a scene, or go whine to the media about it. IIRC I just said fuck it and deposited it in my bank account and waited the day or two for it to clear.

      3. Back before credit cards were the thing I used to do a lot of travel in Mexico and I would always use Barcley’s Bank money orders. They were great and I never had any problems with them except one day after I’d taken a midnight flight back and gone into work sleep deprived and going through alcohol withdrawal.

        At lunch I went to the local gas station for food and the woman at the counter wouldn’t take the money order. I didn’t have any cash, so I went away hungry and apparently did it with less than my normal grace.

        An hour later the corporate receptionist called me and stated “I’m sorry. I didn’t know what to tell them”. I responded with the era’s version of WTF, and then the police burst into my office and dragged me out to my car. I’d been turned in by the woman at the counter for trying to pass funny money.

        I’m actually close to the whitest man in America. I am so average looking that everywhere I go people tell me they know me but can’t remember my name.

        I’m not saying appearance isn’t a factor, I’m just saying it’s not the only factor. A once in a million per day occurrence happens 325 times a day in the USA. With the media on the lookout for anything to confirm their story, they’ll have plenty of opportunities no matter what there story is.

        1. I see it your way: the police get a call regarding “for trying to pass funny money” (note the bank has been defrauded many times via unverified checks) and then seeing a large man with a huge watch (see the photo) decide the safe thing to do is use handcuffs for a few minutes while they investigate so they aren’t attacked and no one is hurt, and if it is a crime then they’ve already subdued the suspect.

          While it is an inconvenience and can be embarrassing, it’s part of the price we pay to catch and incarcerate criminals. But it’s a lot less inconvenient and harmful than being indicted and tried for something you didn’t do, or where the cops decide to enforce a law against you they don’t enforce against others.

          Sometimes it pays to act in ways that are less suspicious, such as depositing a check at your bank rather than cashing it where you don’t have an account. Like driving around with a bunch of marijuana bumper stickers on your car in a state where pot is illegal, we are responsible to some extent for giving the cops an excuse to detain us. To be fair, things could be better here, but they could also be a lot worse like in most other countries.

    3. Right.

      “He’s trying to cash a check and the check is fraudulent. It does not match our records,

      This sounds more like idiocy on the part of the bank, not necessarily racial profiling.

      I mean, maybe the check doesn’t match your records, but the guy was fully cooperative and gave you his fingerprint and ID. Obviously he was not trying to defraud the bank.

      1. And even if he was, you have his ID. You know who he is. It won’t be hard to find him if the check is forged. The bank was just being assholes.

        1. The escalation to a 911 call is the biggest absurdity here.

          1. Yeah, even if he was trying to cash a bad check, it’s hardly an emergency situation.

        2. How do you know the ID is legit?

          1. How do you know the fingerprint is legit?

            1. How do I know you aren’t all figments of my imagination and this is all a dream?

              1. because this is my dream.

        3. The bank was just being assholes.

          Well, we’ve got the word of Joe Seyton and a dude who couldn’t cash his check that the bank was the only asshole involved.

          IMO, that puts the credibility of that notion at ~50% and if I had to make a ‘Top 10 places not to lose your shit’ list, bank is right up there behind police station and operating room.

          1. Unless there’s more then reported here, he didn’t “lose [his] shit” anywhere, inside the bank our outside it.

            1. Unless there’s more then reported here

              I assume there is a teller, possibly a branch manager involved in a call to the cops. It’s not like police showing up at your bank is good for business. Do you generally decide facts or cases based on first impressions and one-sided accounts?

              Based on what was said here; it was made abundantly clear that the check wasn’t going to be cashed, some time in this process, the cops were called, the checkholder decided to leave moments before the cops showed up.

              I’m not saying the guy did definitively lose his shit. I’m saying there’s more than reported here. Customer service at chain banks may have utter contempt for their customers, but they still tend to reserve involving law enforcement for special occasions.

          2. at least if you lose your shit in the operating room, there are medical staff on standby with bedpans.

      2. The real question is – how would the bank have a record of a check they’ve never seen before?

        1. That’s what jumped out at me too. How would they know? I guess maybe if it was fake it could have the wrong routing number or something. But that doesn’t seem to have been the case.

          1. Or if the routing number belongs to an account holder but the contact info on the check doesn’t match the contact info on the account.

            Joe the Plumber “DBA” Plumber’s Anonymous as it were. The exact sort of thing you’d clear up with a phone call.

        2. Almost all banks offer a service for business accounts called “Positive Pay” where the entity issuing the check(s) transmits data electronically to the bank- typically the account and check number, payee name and amount after payment processing. Most large businesses have this service for expense and payroll accounts. The bank will not cash check if it is not on file or there is a discrepancy. The bank will notify the issuer when this activity occurs. Crooks often alter the amount and payee name on checks and then try to cash them – positive pay prevents this type of fraud. Not sure if this type of service is offered on personal checking accounts, it might be.

        3. that jumped out at me as well…but after thinking about it, perhaps it was as simple as the signature on the check did not match the signature card for the account (this can happen when the check writer is in a hurry, for example, and doesn’t take care to sign the check using the same signature). This type of check fraud is the most frequent (real check with a forged signature). At least, it was way back in college when I worked as a teller.

          1. Payroll checks usually are not signed by hand.

    4. The cops? What about the bank?! They refused biz w him, he left. What harm had he done, for them to identify him as a criminal? The cops are just minor players in this thing.

      1. Fuck off Hihn.

    5. It’s not the cops’ fault. They were called; they have to do due diligence at that point.

    6. Agreed..race baiting is big business for some. There are numerous examples of the same thing happening to white folks also, yet not a peer, no money to be made. We do, as a Country, have a significant problem with cops getting away with everything from theft to murder. Having said that though, there is no war on young black men or whatever. But, because that is the narrative pushed, nothing changes. The false narrative turns many, many people off and we just go about our business. That racism doesn’t exist to the extent many want, they push this narrative simply to line their pockets. Listen to news from AL and you would think Hoover cops are out hinting black men, do your own research and you will discover of the 9 or 10 civilians shot by the po po in AL this year, all but now 2, where lilly white. But hey, that doesn’t fit the narrative, now does it.

    7. I’d ont think is a racial issue either. Nor do I blame the cops,in this situation. I do blame the bank. Unless there is additional information, they had no good faith basis to call the police.

  2. This is not really a racial angle.

    Its more of a some banks are run by assholes angle.

    1. Furthermore, this guy might look into suing the bank for falsely reporting a crime that led to the violation of civil rights of a US Citizen.

      Clearly deeming an otherwise valid check as unpayable by a bank and bank fraud because you cannot call the person who issued the check, is unreasonable.

      1. This.

        “He’s trying to cash a check and the check is fraudulent. It does not match our records,” a bank employee can be heard saying in a recording of the 911 call obtained by WOIO.

        *Former* bank employee, at least.

        1. “*Former* bank employee, at least.”

          On the contrary, it probably earned him/her employee of the month.

      2. I’d take the case. In the haggling phase over a settlement offer I would insist the minimum wage earning teller be subject to a shotgun blast to the face.

    2. This is not really a racial angle.

      Yeah, it’s a stretch to get to the racist angle. Banks’ policies are so racist that even though they are 100% racially neutral and applied by people of one race against people of the same race, they’re racist. I wonder what the racial breakdown of check fraudsters is?

      1. Also, we should be clear about some things; some of these banks set up some of these rules to be assholes, but lots and lots of the reasons and ways in which a bank does business is to ensure that they maintain their FDIC status.

      2. I don’t know. According to this under-cover documentary I saw, banks have some pretty serious racial biases https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_LeJfn_qW0

        1. Oh wow, an undercover documentary that’s certainly something.

          1. I once saw a documentary that W brought down the twin towers. What am I to believe now…

  3. It’s racist by definition if it happens to black people more often than whites.

    The racists will say “oh but blacks commit more crime”, which is ridiculously self-fulfilling when crime statistics depend on how many people are arrested and prosecuted by a racist system.

    Not all arrests are racist. But when blacks and white smoke pot at the same rate, and blacks are arrested more often for smoking pot, that is a racist system.

    1. Maybe black people get caught smoking weed more.

      Maybe black people smoke weed while driving more.

      Maybe white people smoke weed at home which is better protected by the 4th Amendment (according to courts).

      Different punishments for crack vs powdered cocaine does seem to point to nefarious reasons. Although even there, white suburban kids using coke for partying and nobody gets hurt compared to crack heads stabbing tourists on the street for cash is different.

    2. But when blacks and white smoke pot at the same rate

      Do they? Not that I think there *should* be a racial disparity *or* that smoking pot should be illegal, but we don’t play hockey or basketball at the same rate, eat fried chicken, drink grape soda, smoke menthol cigarettes, or, as I recently learned, consume funyuns at the same rate. Whites are far more likely to use antidepressants than blacks… I’m not sure how fervently I believe the assertion that we do smoke pot at the same rate.

      1. From what I can quickly find, it looks like blacks and whites use pot at similar rates. Some sources say whites do slightly more and some say blacks do.

        1. I would have to suggest that those are probably self report inventories and not terribly useful because people will and do lie. Realistically, whites would probably have more reason to lie, and so their use may actually be more frequent than reported.

          1. Well, and the rate studies I’ve seen make no distinction between someone who’s smoked weed once in the last 12 mos. and 3X week and other sorts of things along the lines lc1789’s conjecture that might cause it’s use to be more generally detected in criminal situations.

            1. That is an excellent point, a Friday afternoon smoker isn’t the same as a 3x a day pothead.

    3. >>>It’s racist by definition if it happens to black people more often than whites.

      racist by *conclusion* if statistics can be made to show it happens to “black” people more often than “whites”

    4. Do blacks and whites in fact smoke weed at the same rate? Cite pls.

        1. So, the first cite isn’t really clear on the source of the data, but it appears to be based on the Uniform Crime Reporting data supplied by police and the FBI, so I’m not sure how they got their number. It is, by their description, elated to arrests and police encounters, so I am having a hard time making the numbers fit the description. If they smoke at the same rate, and the numbers are based on arrests/encounters, it seems to suggest that the “encounters” part is where the discontinuity occurs.

          The second is based on CDC numbers, and appears to be about smoking cigarettes, not weed. But… it isn’t completely clear.

          Short story, I would try to find better cites that are clearer on where the data came from. As is, I don’t consider those definitive or even very useful.

          1. Here is a better link, which breaks it down very effectively and appears to be quite robust

            NCBI study

            “Estimates of alcohol and marijuana use disorders in this sample were high. Eighty-seven percent of participants had a single alcohol use disorder, while 12.18% had a single marijuana use disorder, and 8.75% had a co-occurring alcohol and marijuana use disorder. Alcohol use disorders were more likely to be reported among Whites than African Americans, ?2(1, N = 11,867) = 1062.90, p < 0.0001, and more likely among Hispanics as compared to African Americans, ?2(1, N = 3,468) = 2260.68, p < 0.0001. Alcohol use disorders were similar among Whites and Hispanics, ?2(1, N =12,409) = 19.44, p = 0.2838. African Americans were more likely to report marijuana use disorders than Whites, ?2(1, N = 11,867) = 1401.45, p < 0.0001 and Hispanics, ?2(1, N = 3,468) = 2605.30, p < 0.0001. Co-occurring alcohol and marijuana use disorders were more likely among African Americans as compared to Whites, ?2(1, N = 11,867) = 643.67, p < 0.0001 and Hispanics, ?2(1, N = 3,468) = 715.37, p = 0.0007."

    5. Lots of things happen to black people more often than whites. Some good, some bad. Some racist, some not.

      If you believe DOJ statistics, then you must agree that blacks actually do commit crimes at a higher rate than whites. Concluding that this is self fulfilling is racist, abbracadbruh.

      1. Could you enumerate the good things, I am not doubting you are correct but I would love to see a list of examples. At least to learn what my Swedish-Irish self has been missing out on. Being part Irish I am brimming over with deep seated resentments and always eager to learn about new injustices against my people, but the Swedish part keeps me from talking about it except under pretense of anonymity.

      2. It tends to track with overly, and Democrat munipal and state governance.

    6. re: “It’s racist by definition if it happens to black people more often than whites.”

      No. “Racist” is a adjective describing beliefs. It describes motivations, not outcomes. The fact that A happens to blacks more than to whites might be a clue suggesting that racist motivations play a role but such statistic is not and never can be a deterministic conclusion.

    7. It’s racist by definition if it happens to black people more often than whites.

      Today I learned sickle cell anemia is racist.

      1. Hurricanes are racist, they never strike Idaho, but Louisiana gets it all the time.

        1. Not according to the estimable D.C. Council member Trayon White Sr. (D-Ward 8). Hint: It’s the Rothschilds.

          “Man, it just started snowing out of nowhere this morning, man. Y’all better pay attention to this climate control, man, this climate manipulation,” he says. “And D.C. keep talking about, ‘We a resilient city.’ And that’s a model based off the Rothschilds controlling the climate to create natural disasters they can pay for to own the cities, man. Be careful.”

        2. The South is racist. You can tell by how disproportionately black it is.

          1. You hit the nail on the head with that one.

        3. Well we do get earthquakes and volcanoes, I understand the latter are considered a quaint and mythological fancy in Louisiana. At least acording to a certain former governor.

    8. Black people commit more crime regardless of bias in prosecution. It’s not close.

      And this is the crux of the issue. “Discrimination” is rational. “Profiling” is rational. Idealism won’t save the tiny white woman walking through the streets of a ghetto after dark.

      Facts are stubborn things. A socialist utopia can’t legislate away the fact that attractive women have to be wary of sexual predators, men have to be wary of being perceived as threats, the elderly have to budget extra time to do everything, and people are going to assume that you’re similar to other people who look, dress, and act like you.

    9. Who knew black people were so racist when it comes to, say, murders, cross race rapes, why it might even be a war on white folk, or so goes the logic you provided

    10. Your argument would make sense if the only disparate crime rates involved drugs. They don’t. So maybe instead if accusing reality if racism…

  4. how many of the other ten people arrested for bad checks were of color? unless they were mostly of color then maybe you can claim racism unless the area has a higher percentage of people of color. that said i live in a town thats 99% white but the main crimes of late have been by people of color form out of town, they think the town is an easy mark and they know about the town unfortunately due to the massive pot grows we have here

  5. McCowns’ case is a good example of how institutional racism can screw over innocent people. I can understand that the bank employees were worried about fraudulent checks. But the fact that they singled out McCowns, whose only “crime” was not being a customer, suggests he was profiled based on the color of his skin.

    Joe Seyton’s case is a good example of how institutional leftism and social justice can screw over innocent people. I can understand that the Reason writers were worried about racism. But the fact that they singled out this story, whose only “evidence” of racism was the involvement of a black person, suggests Joe Seyton profiled based on the color of his skin.

    1. It’s worse than that. Based on the facts as presented in the article I’d say there’s a good chance that he was singled out because he was the only payroll check casher whose employer phone number wasn’t answered.

      1. This is a non-story story.

        The cops did not do anything wrong. They were told by the bank that the guy was cashing a fraudulent check. Not that they had suspicions, or that they couldn’t verify the employer because they didn’t answer the phone…. that it was a fraudulent check. What are they supposed to do at that point? Ask for the race of everyone involved and then decline to intervene if the alleged criminal is not white?

        They stopped the guy and verified his story. Then they let him go. A pain in his ass, but not the fault of the police.

        The guy at the bank reported something that may not have been in accordance with the information he had… the bit about the check definitely being bad. That’s a problem.

        But claiming that it is “an example of institutional racism” goes way beyond the facts in evidence. One or two people created the police report – not an institution. And he didn’t get arrested.

        The bank branch had a spate of fraudulent checks being passed. I’m sure that this was a point of emphasis in response to that situation.

        The only thing wrong in the entire story is that they told the police that it was definitely check fraud because the check didn’t match their records. Obviously, this was not entirely accurate.

        1. A big issue is the fact that the cops handcuffed McCown prior to conducting their own independent preliminary investigation, and whether they would have done the same had McCown not been black.

          1. That’s a big, big step back from what this article and most of the comments are saying. Bait-and-switches like this really discredit the outrage industry.

          2. They will handcuff anyone and everyone; procedure for officer safety.

    2. What did you expect? Selma 1964 is definitely one of the most prominent applause lines in the left’s Greatest Hits collection. Being surprised that Reason reprises it ad nauseum is like going to see Deep Purple and being surprised to hear Smoke On the Water. You’re gonna be hearing it forever, no matter how sick of it you are. Think of it as the journalistic equivalent of getting rickrolled.

    3. To be fair, it will be very hard for Leftists to finally see that THEY are racists and admit it.

  6. Cash a paycheck like a thug, get arrested like a thug.

  7. I’m white and I’ve received pretty much the exact same treatment when trying to cash a paycheck at a bank I wasn’t a customer at. Including threats to call the police.

    1. Mere threats to call the police is not the equivalent of what happened here.

  8. Let’s step back from all the rest and consider the insanity of calling 911 for a potentially fake check. That’s about as far from an emergency as it gets.

    1. 911 is not an emergency only service anymore, in most jurisdictions. Busy areas, yeah.

      I called non-emergency number to report large amounts of rope on interstate, they transferred me to E911 operator.

      I suspect, there are not enough emergency calls in may areas to justify the amount of money they spend on E911 staffing and equipment, so they would rather triage calls. If there are a bunch of emergency calls, they will put you and your non-emergency call on hold.

    2. My city has a non emerfpgency number called ‘crime check’ for non emergency situations. I keep this in my mobile phone’s contacts.

  9. I’m not black and I have been treated disrespectfully when cashing checks at banks where I am not an account holder.

    I complain to the bank manager immediately though.

    O.G. Gansta!

  10. Which part is the “like a thug” part in this account?

    1. Nobody is expecting you to have a sense of humor so don’t worry about it.

      1. Some would be surprised if he had anything augmenting the lizard portion of his brain.

  11. People who work in banks are largely morons.

  12. Two words….

    Direct Deposit

    1. Two words….

      First Paycheck

    2. Banks charge maintenance fee if you dont have “enough” money in the accounts. Its a pain for poor people.

      If you cash a check at the banks, you get all of the money. Check cashing places charge fees.

      This guy was doing the responsible thing and cashing his check to keep it all.

      Direct deposit is convenient but its not for everyone.

      1. Yeah. That kind of bullshit is why I stick with regional banks and credit unions who usually don’t have any of that nonsense.

    3. Direct deposit requires:

      A bank account
      Usually at least one pay period to get it set up

      1. Also, your employer will likely have to answer the phone at some point.

        1. I had to clean my screen after spitting on it.

          1. Fucking hilarious.

        2. yeah dude funny.

    4. Two words . . . most employers won’t pay to do that.

      Seriously. Most place in the country you’re getting a paycheck and that’s it. They’re not going to be bothered with electronic transfers.

      1. A lot depends on the size of the employer. Printing payroll checks gets expensive when you have thousands of employees. Most large employers, and probably every multi-state employer strongly encourage the use of direct deposit.

        For a small employer, with at most a dozen or so employees, it’s a different issue.

        1. Most employers are the latter.

          1. I dunno….. direct deposit is probably easier in most cases.

            Small businesses often use payroll services to handle that sort of thing. ADP does a huge amount of business handling payroll. It isn’t just the checks, reporting and withholding are also a royal pain.

            An old-school guy might want to keep control of his ledger-style checks, but younger folks are likely to enjoy the ease of releasing payments via web interface.

        2. I used to work for a small employer. About 7-10 employees usually, and direct deposit through his bank was how he preferred to handle things way back in 2005 to 2008.

          Owner was a CPA so its not as though he didn’t have the skills. It just wasn’t worth his time to cut checks.

  13. This culminated in one employee calling 911 and falsely claiming that his check was fraudulent.

    If only there were a law to make filing a false police report a crime. Like the guy who called the cops about some skeevy-looking guy hanging around and figured he’d get a quicker response if he falsely claimed the guy had a gun and you won’t believe what happened next.

  14. I don’t blame the cops, I blame the assholes who called them. Cops are just doing their job. In my experience they are well-trained and professional. Furthermore, there are a lot of minorities staffing the criminal justice system, meaning that if there is institutional racism, they have only themselves to blame. Not much an outsider can do to force them to treat their own better, or to abuse white guys like me.

    1. And like they have any idea that the bank screwed up. I do feel bad for honest cops that get stuck following up on these bogus calls. I hope they ripped into the bank employee hard. At a minimum.

  15. This may very well be racist, but without data to compare there’s no way to know. You could well have googled the time a white person couldn’t cash their check and written an article about how that was racist if there wasn’t going to be any context or statistics used to actually figure out what the motivation was here.

  16. “But the fact that they singled out McCowns, whose only “crime” was not being a customer, suggests he was profiled based on the color of his skin.”

    If they would have cashed his check being a customer, it is not an issue of racism.

  17. “Police had no choice but to respond.”

    Is this really true?

    1. Not according to multiple court decisions – – – – –

    2. Well, if he had actually been dangerous, they could have waited outside until he finished slaughtering everyone in the bank.

  18. Clearly a law is needed to require cash payments to workers, to avoid this blatant racism. Think of all the new jobs to process and pay in cash! Clerks, guards, armored car drivers, so many jobs that do not require a degree. This one law could almost eliminate student debt, and lower tuition by reducing demand for useless degrees.

  19. McCowns’ case is a good example of how institutional racism can screw over innocent people.

    It’s truly fucking embarrassing that Reason has staff writers humping this shit.

    Staff writers who apparently don’t know a fucking thing about modern banking, security precautions and bad checks.

    My bank calls me every time a contractor tries to cash one of my LLC checks. I didn’t ask them to. They do this because they’ve, and every damn bank in America, has been screwed by bad checks. Checks are awful. They are the most fraudulent way to deal with money. Anyone can scan and create a new blank check and then bad checks abound.

    Yet, here’s Joe, crying fucking Racism because all he can see is skin color.

    Embarrassing.

    1. I wonder if Seyton considers is racism when a check cashing store also calls the employer listed to verify its existence.

    2. They are the most fraudulent way to deal with money.

      I’d say most easily detectable fraudulent way. Low-level multi-factor authentication has been built right in almost since the beginning.

      1. Do you mean signature verification? You understand that no one does this, right? Because it’s not practical. And it does nothing in regards to verification of the payee.

        1. I agree – checks are terrible for security, particularly in the digital age. Even without MICR toner you can easily create a passable forgery with off the shelf components. And you don’t even need that – check printing companies will happily sell an order of business checks. Or you could steal a page of checks… really easy stuff.

          And as to the “multi-factor authentication”, I’ve been to a check clearing house. They are scanned and entered. Nobody pulls a signature card.

          In the olden days someone at the town bank would have gone to the signature card for a really big check, but that’s way back in the rear view mirror.

          Today the banks are basically fronting the money when you cash the check – so they try to make sure they are not getting defrauded before the money leaves the building.

          1. I agree – checks are terrible for security, particularly in the digital age. Even without MICR toner you can easily create a passable forgery with off the shelf components. And you don’t even need that – check printing companies will happily sell an order of business checks. Or you could steal a page of checks… really easy stuff.

            Sure, it’s dead simple to forge a check, but 1,000? Nope. One check each across 10,000 accounts? No way. Forge 10,000 credit transactions? Dead simple and it’s even easier if you do it one transaction each across 10,000 accounts. I wonder if that has something to do with merchants and customers doing their due diligence up front rather than just offloading that responsibility onto nameless clearinghouses and card issuers. Nah, otherwise we’d develop some manner of decentralized anonymous electronic currency to combat the side effects of power passively transferred so such organizations.

            It’s funny that people who can fall head over heels in love with bitcoin because it’s a distributed system don’t recognize distributed security mechanisms, liability, etc., etc. when it’s kicking them in the groin.

        2. You don’t write accounting software, right? If so, please let me know what products so I can stop or avoid using them.

          Multi- means “many”. You falsely assume that the only security put in place by requiring a signature (which I didn’t say) is/was identity verification. It’s not, it’s an entirely different money system. You should look into it sometime.

          There is *way* more credit fraud than debit or checking fraud. It’s just that nobody knows about it because the liability has been off-loaded onto the banks/card issuers and larger merchants and much of the measures to combat fraud (3DS, PIN Debit, and EMV) are modern re-implementations of the old safeguards that were in place with checking since the beginning. If you don’t believe me, go try to cash an unsigned check without your driver’s license at your local grocery store, then do the same thing with your credit card. There was a time when you couldn’t do either, we’ve just accepted that credit fraud is how things work and that anything to do with checking is an anachronism (trying not to implicate right or wrong).

    3. It is embarrassing. Sadly it’s become the norm here at Reason. Most of the writers have turned into virtue signalling douchebags. Not all, but most. And they have the gall to ask for money? Fuck no.

      1. Seriously. Can’t they bring in at least ONE new writer who has more in common with Ron Paul than an ANTIFA SJW???

        Right libertarians make up the vast majority of libertarians I have met IRL… Yet other than Stossel, are completely unrepresented at Reason.

        1. Indeed. A strong majority of Reason articles read as progressive lite anymore. It’s a fucking disgrace. Even worse, most of the writers here do little research to back up their bullshit.

  20. But the fact that they singled out McCowns, whose only “crime” was not being a customer, suggests he was profiled based on the color of his skin. This culminated in one employee calling 911 and falsely claiming that his check was fraudulent.

    No. No it doesn’t Seyton.

    Look, this shit shouldn’t have happened to the guy but to say he was ‘profiled based on the color of his skin’ with no more evidence than this one data point? WTH Reason?

  21. But the fact that they singled out McCowns, whose only “crime” was not being a customer, suggests he was profiled based on the color of his skin. This culminated in one employee calling 911 and falsely claiming that his check was fraudulent.

    No. No it doesn’t Seyton.

    Look, this shit shouldn’t have happened to the guy but to say he was ‘profiled based on the color of his skin’ with no more evidence than this one data point? WTH Reason?

  22. I also have a problem with labeling this as obvious racism, although I’m glad the article exposes the very poor practices of both private and public service sectors. They should be held accountable and this article helps do that. That said, this could easily happen to anyone for the way they look or act. Let’s say you look like you are wearing a disguise or dirty clothes or a little different or drunk. Maybe you are sweaty or fidgety or have Tourette’s. Some poorly trained people can see these characteristics as suspicious.

    1. Suspicions are one thing.

      Being arrested falsely and without probable is specifically prohibited by the US Constitution.

      Not being able to call the person who issued a check is not probable cause that a crime happened.

      1. It doesn’t sound like anyone was arrested. It sounds like he was detained pursuant to an investigation. The police were told that he was definitely passing a fraudulent check. This was not true – but they don’t know that until they investigate.

        Blaming the cops here is like blaming the cops when someone calls 911 to SWAT someone.

        1. 1. Detention is arrest.

          2. He was put in handcuffs while this investigation happened. If nothing else, being forceably stopped and restrained and locked up is an arrest.

          1. I agree with you, but SCOTUS doesn’t agree with us.

          2. Sooo if the cops temporarily detain somebody because they are told that person DEFINITELY stole a car… Or DEFINITELY robbed a liquor store… Or DEFINITELY shot somebody… If that person didn’t do those things, the cops were being unreasonable?

            I think not. If they had taken him downtown, booked him, given him a cavity search, denied him his phone call, etc etc etc… THEN they would be out of line. But talking to a dude for a few and verifying everything is kosher? Not so much. That’s exactly what you want the cops to do.

            I can only DREAM of having police that are half this responsive to crimes as this. In my city they didn’t lift a fucking finger when my car was stolen. They didn’t bother to dust for prints when it was recovered, despite the fact that everything in the car had been rifled through, and it was clearly a professional car theft… Hence a repeat offender. Nothin’. I wish I had cops that tried to go after actual crimes.

            1. For an individual citizen who isn’t a council, mayor, or friend of theirs? No. For a bank, probably.

        2. Blaming the cops here is like blaming the cops when someone calls 911 to SWAT someone.

          Bouncing a check, getting shot to death, what’s the difference?!

          1. The difference is you can only be shot to death once.

    2. Maybe the bank/employee should be cited filing a false report.

  23. Banks are cautious. It causes inconvenience for bank customers. It is one of the annoying things in life that all of us have to deal with.

    The fact that this particular customer is black does not make this racism. Screaming racism without supporting evidence of racism is racist “straight up”, and the only point of screaming racism is to stoke racial animosity. Look at all of the “White woman calls police on poor black child” stories that regularly run in news outlets. Fake news is all this is.

    I recently sold a house. The escrow company in the transaction wire-transferred the proceeds to my bank. I have been a customer of this bank for years. The bank froze those funds for 5 days. It was annoying, but that is the bank’s policy.

    1. Yup. I’ve had banks not cash checks for me too. I’m, GASP SHOCK HORROR… A white man. These things are usually related to black people being offended that the same rules that apply to everyone also apply to them. They then whine about it, and it gets escalated far beyond where it should.

      1. No the difference is that when you’re black you can never ever ever omit race as a potential factor. Race is always there in the background of every single interaction. So it isn’t just black people being offended at the same rules being applied — especially when their is ample (though usually anecdotal) evidence of quite different rules being applied. It is the fact that they can never be sure at all

        1. So? I’ve had more racist incidents against me than I can count, BECAUSE I’m a white man. I had some dumb shit drunk Mexican call me a white bitch the other night because I was friendly to him on the street, after we had been hanging out at the same bar.

          If I have a non white person I’m dealing with (or even delusional self hating white people nowadays!) I can never rule out race as a reason I am being fucked with either.

          Either way, going around assuming the worst all the time, and then bitching about it, is NOT a healthy way to go through life.

          1. Forgot, best part… I’m part fucking Mexican myself! So people are just fucking tools, and it ain’t always against non whites.

  24. Not seeing this as racist. Sounds more like the bank had been hit several time with fraudulent checks and they were following the rules. If anyone was racist, it was the cops who cuffed the guy and put him in the back seat.

    1. Sounds more like the bank had been hit several time with fraudulent checks and they were following the rules.

      Yup.

      If anyone was racist, it was the cops who cuffed the guy and put him in the back seat.

      Or it’s SOP to cuff someone and put them in the back seat while being detained.

    2. I can’t conclude the cop was racist here. The check casher was detained because the cop thought it was possible that he was a crook. It turned out the guy was not a crook, just a working stiff trying to live his life. He was released after being cleared.

      Interactions with cops are unpleasant. The interactions I have had with cops have left me feeling angry. Life is annoying that way.

      1. Yeah, it’s not like the police acted unilaterally. They were fed bullshit by a bank employee, which normally is considered credible. I’m sure they were quite irked when it turned out the bank employee was so wrong.

    3. The bank personnel were following rules that say, “Call the cops?bank robbery in progress!”?

      What else were the cops supposed to do? Anything else to straighten this out would’ve been more intrusive. Cavity search?

      1. Fuck off Hihn.

        1. You seem to have a strange idea of what Hihn would write. I could imagine him raking me over the coals for what I wrote.

          1. The only person that can write something acceptable to Hihn, is Hihn. He even attacks people who agree with him.

  25. Has Reason joined the Social Justice Brigade?

    1. It joined years ago and it’s annoying. They keep churning out this kind of crap and they should be embarrassed.

  26. The “it is racism” angle to this is stupid. Every time a black person gets inconvenienced, we don’t need to tout it as an example of racism.

    The one thing that needs addressing in this story is the difficulty people have in opening a bank account. It used to be simple…. you give them money, they open an account.

    This guy had over a thousand bucks. Cashing that and walking out with a grand in your pocket is not smart. But if you don’t have a bank account….

    In a different world, the teller would have offered to open an account for him and deposit most of the money. Then he’s a customer, not some guy they have no relationship with. But these days it is tough to get an account if you have bad credit or no credit history.

    In fact, in my youth that’s what would have happened. Banks competed for customers and for deposits. They would have had an incentive in place for the tellers to sign up new accounts. He would have been walked over to one of the bankers to give him the sales pitch on opening an account and they would have given him a free coffee mug.

    Instead, they called the cops.

    But that’s not racism. That’s the new world of credit checks and tight control on banking access, which has a big impact on the poor – a group that is disproportionately black.

    1. I was able to open a new account with my credit union without ever stepping into their office. The only time I needed to visit the office was when I couldn’t wire money from my old credit union to the new one, and had to write a check to myself. Other than that I can do all of my banking electronically. I could have used Bill Pay to do it, but I was too lazy to set that up for a one time transaction.With direct deposit and a debit card I never need to go into the CU. I didn’t even need to set foot in the credit union to get an auto loan.

      If you’re dealing with any of the “chain” banks you’re going to get shit service. I feel bad for Mr. McCown since Huntington Bank went out of their way to wreck his day. He needs to spend some time on getting his finances set up. There are plenty of credit unions willing to take his business, and they won’t stick him with the shit service and ridiculous fees Huntington Bank and their ilk peddle to their “valued customers.”

      1. Well, you probably don’t have no/bad credit.

        About 11-12 years ago when I was more of a youngin’ I had a credit union decline to open an account for me. Not because I had anything bad, but simply because I didn’t have any credit to speak of at the time. Another bank happily gave me an account, but must have had lower standards. If you have outright shit credit nowadays it is supposedly pretty tough to get accounts at a lot of places.

    2. Please; give due credit to the US federal government for forcing ‘anti-terrorism’ identification requirements on banks as a condition of keeping FDIC coverage.

      1. It’s more than that. Check fraud is such an issue that most businesses including banks are incredibly suspicious where they are concerned. That trend started long before 9/11 and the Patriot Act.

  27. Know what I like about you, Joe? Nobody can spell your name right.

    1. Know what people like about you?

      Nothing.

    2. Nobody can spell your name right.

      I can spell his name right. I just think Joe Say-ton would be too blatant.

      1. The list of people who can’t spell his name right apparently includes fellow Reason contributor Eric Bohem.

  28. “McCowns’ case is a good example of how institutional racism can screw over innocent people.”

    No it isn’t.

    “But the fact that they singled out McCowns, whose only “crime” was not being a customer, suggests he was profiled based on the color of his skin.”

    No it doesn’t.

    You’re a fucking idiot Seyton.

  29. …putting McCowns in handcuffs was completely unnecessary.

    SURE IF YOU WANT TO BE KILLED OR WORSE BY A CHECK FORGER

    1. Years ago, a friend of mine and I were towing a vehicle. It turned out we were not using the required precautions with the tow rope and we’re pulled over. Per regulations, the officer was required to check our IDs. A person fitting a different overall description, but with an identical name to my friend came up they reported him over the radio. This was before cops carried internet connected laptops. So it took about fifteen minutes to verify they had the wrong guy, which the cop told us he already figured.

      My friend was cuffed and put in the back of the patrol car, also per procedure. Both of us were white, middle class, and not dressed like thugs, and in a good area of town.

      So just because they cuffed him until it was sorted out probably had noting to do with race. Likely this is how they are supposed to handle a situation like this. The bank however, well they come off like assholes.

  30. “And in October, a black military veteran was cuffed on his own property by Kansas police, who apparently thought it was suspicious that he was moving a TV into his new house.”

    When are these black people gonna learn to notify the proper, white authorities before buying a new TV?

    1. Right. And provide full documentation of legal acquisition of the funds used to purchase said TV. No drug profits allowed.

    2. 5 bucks says if you look into the details, there were weird extenuating circumstances.

      Like the guy was doing it in the middle of the night. Or he was wearing extra super duper ratty clothes. Or the person that called it in said definitively “I know who lives in that house, and it ain’t this guy!” because he had just moved in, etc.

      I have yet to see pretty much ANY case where there isn’t something like that involved. The media wants to spin these all as just being evil white people… When in reality it’s just the kind of nothing burger stupid shit that happens in a country with 300+ million people.

      As I said above, I can only DREAM of living somewhere where the cops were actually willing to show up and try to investigate “minor” crimes like break ins or check fraud. They won’t arrest people for shooting heroin on the sidewalk in the middle of downtown in the middle of the day in Seattle anymore…

      1. Like the story in this article, a lot of times cops are just following up on a bullshit call. I’ve been on the receiving end of that, and usually if I remain calm, the cops sort it out without incident, and quickly. And since I’m tall and built like a linebacker, I go out of my way to remain calm when dealing with law enforcement. So they don’t get nervous and mace/TASER/shoot me.

  31. Institutional racism? Maybe, but without more “data” that cannot be concluded. The police did arrest 10 others that were trying to cash fraudulent checks, according to the article and the WAPO article. What race were they? It also states that he was able to cash his check at another branch of that same bank; if this is institutional racism, wouldn’t that branch also treat him the same way?
    If the “journalists” from the Wa Post did a little more investigation into the other 10 arrests maybe that would shed more light on whether this is profiling or not.

  32. “Person Who is Not a White Male Has Imperfect Experience. Burn It All Down!” – left-wing media everywhere, and also Reason, far too often.

  33. Give me a break …. think racism exists over here …. you’ll find it ….. think a person is sexist over there …. you’ll find it …. think someone must be a gay-basher …. why, so he is. Cops make mistakes ….. like all of us do in our work. Get over yourself Leftists.

  34. But the fact that they singled out McCowns, whose only “crime” was not being a customer, suggests he was profiled based on the color of his skin.

    Bullshit. The only thing it suggests is that you jumped straight to that conclusion, ignoring all other possibilities.

  35. “McCowns’ case is a good example of how institutional racism can screw over innocent people”

    Did I miss the part that said only black people were questioned when depositing checks? Talk about a bald assertion.

  36. Joe Setyon looked only at the skin color of McCowns.
    Joe Setyon is therefore racist.
    Joe Setyon has not been fired from Reason.
    Reason is therefore racist.
    We read this shit.
    We are therefore racist.

    All this racism is proof that racism is rampant.

  37. I’m not sure the cops did anything wrong here. They had plenty of reason to suspect McCowns based on the evidence presented in the story and subsequently detain him. They didn’t beat him or detain him any longer than necessary to confirm his side of the story. Handcuffing a suspect is standard operating procedure for the cops’ safety. I still wonder if a white guy would have triggered the same reaction from the bank. Maybe their tellers need some sensitivity training…

    1. Hate to see that these types of incidents still happen in 2018.My hope is to see these reduced in 2019 and we start accepting each other as we are.

  38. Um, claiming that that he was profiled for being black, with no substantiation whatsoever, is RACIST!

  39. All people who receive a paycheck should be arrested for stealing from our glorious ruling elitist turds who take the time and trouble to enslave us all.
    We, the people, do not need paychecks.
    We can live off the bounty the land so generously offers us.
    Our families can live in tents, caves and the magnificent underpasses of the freeways.
    We can feed ourselves from the generous donations our ruling elites leave us in their dumpsters.
    We can heal ourselves by having wild animals lick our wounds.
    We do not need an education. We only need to trust our obvious betters by following their prudent diktats immediately and without question.
    And currency…?
    Who needs it.
    All we need is the love and direction from those who enslave us and treat us like yesterday’s shit is compensation enough for all they have done for and to us.

  40. “the check is fraudulent. It does not match our records”

    I’d like some clarification of that. The bank has records of ? all checks issued by every local employer? or of the wages of non-customers?

    1. To cash a check at a bank you don’t bank at, that means he’s at his employers bank. They can look at a previously written check in all of 5 seconds in their system. From that they can see the check design, and signature. SOMETHING didn’t look the same, at least to the person that checked it.

  41. The story was doing well until the author decided to insinuate something that is completely unknown. “It’s also highly unlikely McCowns posed enough of a threat to warrant him being detained. So why did police have to escalate what should have been a non-incident in the first place?”

    How does the author know it was “highly unlikely” McCowns posed a threat? Why does the author assume it was the police who escalated the situation?

    Why doesn’t he assume thatMcCowns became extremely upset at being stopped by the police, became unruly and loud at being singled out for trying to cash his check? He wouldn’t necessarily be wrong to be outraged, but the police were responding to a call where they were told he was cashing a fraudulent check from a location that’s known to have have several instances of that happen in the immediate past. The police would rightly assume it’s a valid complaint and respond accordingly. Then they meet the alleged suspect who becomes agitated and unruly. Handcuffing him until it can be sorted out is actually a very prudent move.

    That’s not to say how it played out, but it has as much basis in reality — actually, a lot more — than the speculation Reason gave. Unfortunately, Reason takes every opportunity it can to portray the police in a bad light and speculates on actions that it has no factual basis for doing so.

    1. Yup. Almost all these situations, if you dig in, you find out the poor defenseless minority is the one who escalated the situation. He might have got all rude and snarky with the bank employee. He might have done the same with the cop. Who knows.

      I can understand being irritated… But that’s not excuse for getting out of line. I am an adult, and know how to conduct myself accordingly, even when I’m peeved.

      That may not be the case here, but it is in the overwhelming majority of cases where this kind of stuff happens. Like Starbucks boys, and lady having baby ripped from her arms the other week. Both were being shit heads, and got called on it.

  42. In none of the five stories I read, from five different sources do they mention anything about his behavior
    or reaction.
    In most of these ‘racial profiling’ cases the supposed ‘victim, reacts to a perceived slight by yelling screaming and threatening, escalating the situation, which is why the police are called.

  43. “He’s trying to cash a check and the check is fraudulent. It does not match our records,”

    That line made me think 2 things:

    Either the check design itself did not match previous checks from his company, which would be odd, but not impossible… One can order different style checks after running out of course.

    OR the signature didn’t match those on record. Perhaps a guy had his secretary sign a check or something?

    In either event, it wouldn’t be TOO out of line to not cash a check in that situation. As far as calling the cops, it sounds like this branch has a lot of fake checks cashed if they’ve had 10 in a few months.

    Calling the cops… If the guy was being polite, and not making a scene, they should have just let him roll. But the kind of guy who would go whine about perceived racism after the fact… It makes me think he may have been bitching or being rude at the time, which could come off as sketchy.

    I hate to do it, but I’m going to assume he was being a dick. Why? Because EVERY SINGLE TIME I’ve looked deep enough into these BS stories, that is ALWAYS the case. These people always bring it on themselves by not reacting well to WTF ever is going on, which is how it gets escalated. Until proven otherwise, that is what I’m going to assume in 100% of cases since the media likes to manufacture these outrage stories.

  44. Wait… how is it that the police were able to verify the check and his employment within minutes, but the bank could not? Seems odd to me. The fact that he was also asked to give his SSN is also unusual in my experience. Part of me wonders if they even tried to actually verify the check at all.

  45. First off, this was terrible judgment at best on the part of the bank. Next, the police have protocols on when they are required to put someone in handcuffs. These rules are generated by the particular police department and probably the State may have requirements also.

    Cops don’t have a choice usually whether to cuff someone or not. So let’s not get all bent because he got handcuffed. Once they got a confirmation that the check was correct and authorized, they released him.

    Granted this is terrible and it’s easy for me to say it’s no big deal but I’m not really. The bank employees acted stupidly and perhaps with bias. That should be investigated and I would encourage this guy to file suit. That may be problematic though as the bank may cause trouble for his new employer.

    I’m curious how many black people are in the town and work for the same employer. Sounds like there aren’t that many or this problem would have shown up in other cases.

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  48. What was the evidence that “the check is fraudulent It does not match our records”? Seems like the bank employee made a false statement. What record would a bank have of a check that hadn’t been cashed?

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