Banking While Black: In Lawsuit, Man Accuses Bank of Racial Profiling

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A Black man who claims he was illegally detained at a Florida Fifth Third Bank branch has filed a lawsuit against the financial institution, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Hne Yuoh visited the branch’s 2710 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd. location in Clearwater to deposit money into his account on Dec. 27. Youh says he was locked into a space between the doors that connected the entrance to the lobby.

Attorney Peter Sartes is representing Yuoh and said the incident was racially motivated.

“It’s just so egregious,” Sartes told the Tampa Bay Times. “This is exactly what racial profiling is.”

On Thursday, a Fifth Third Bank spokesperson declined to comment on the matter citing pending litigation.

According to a police report on the incident as well as the lawsuit, the 31-year-old African-American male walked into the bank around 9:45 in the morning when the bank’s detector went off. As a result, he was locked between the doors of the entrance, according to the documents. Bank employees say he refused to empty a box and a bag he was carrying. They also told officials that he was yelling and that his account had been closed since 2012.

Police officers spoke with Yuoh in the bank’s lobby as several more reportedly positioned themselves around the financial institution. He complied with them, according to officials.

Sartes said Yuoh works as a landscaper. He reportedly told officers the alarm went off because he had a metal tape measure and small tools in his bag. The box contained chocolates he planned to leave for the bank’s tellers, the lawsuit says.

He was later released after authorities concluded that no crime was committed.

According to state records, Yuoh has been arrested about a dozen times on misdemeanor charges over the last ten years.

 

 

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