Maxwell Johnson says he strongly believes he was racially profiled.
Maxwell Johnson had an appointment with the Bank of Montreal in Vancouver and he expected it to go as any other bank visit would go. According to CBC, he's been a customer of the bank since 2014 and he wanted to open another bank account for his 12-year-old granddaughter so he could transfer funds to her online, especially when she was on the road for basketball games. However, the meeting did not, in the least, go as they expected. On December 20th, during their meeting at BMO's Burrard Street location in downtown Vancouver, an employee questioned the identification he and his granddaughter presented.
The Bank of Montreal has apologized after an Indigenous man and his 12-year-old granddaughter were handcuffed in front of a Vancouver branch. They went there to open a bank account so he could transfer money to her during her sports trips: https://t.co/dKz2r6HC1w— CBC News Alerts (@CBCAlerts) January 9, 2020
"She said the numbers didn't match up what she had on her computer," Johnson said from his home in Bella Bella, a Heiltsuk community located on B.C's Central Coast. 56-year-old Johnson and his granddaughter submitted government-issued Indian Status cards, his birth certificate, and her medical card. However, the employee became suspicious and reportedly went upstairs with their cards.
People need to slow down here. Is it normal proceedure to phone police if ID that doesn't match is presented at a bank? Did the pair become aggitated or beligerant? Did the granddaughter try to intervene? There will be video evidence of the entire incident.— Wool Is Not Enough (@WoolIsNotEnough) January 9, 2020
Johnson thinks the employee might have been suspicious because he had $30,000 in his account — an amount he and every other member of the Heiltsuk nation received in December from the federal government as part of an Aboriginal rights settlement package. Then, the employee came and told them to go upstairs and a short while later, they saw cops walking towards the two of them.
I have it on good authority that @BMO have always treated First Nations people this way. At one point they even celebrated the murdering of 1st nations peoplehttps://t.co/n0JASOSBpj— Don Ellam 🇨🇦 (@Don_NW) January 9, 2020
So maybe they owe more than just an apology
"They came over and grabbed me and my granddaughter, took us to a police vehicle and handcuffed both of us, told us we were being detained and read us our rights," Johnson said. It was one thing to handcuff him, but seeing his granddaughter crying and in handcuffs broke his heart. "You can see how scared she was … It was really hard to see that," he said. Johnson says he strongly believes he was racially profiled.
Here's an easy one, for free.— ViperTwoSix (@vipertwosix) January 9, 2020
When a non-threatening client poses a problem like this, try talking to them, before resorting to calling the police. As a teacher, I dealt with actual gang members. You'd be shocked what a calm voice, a respectful tone, and a smile can do.
The Vancouver Police Department corroborated Johnson's account of what happened. Spokesperson Sgt. Aaron Roed said the officers detained them after claims from the bank that he and his granddaughter were committing a "possible fraud" that was in progress and identified the two of them as suspects. "It was determined that there was no criminal activity and no fraudulent transactions," the spokesperson said. Both were released within the hour and, according to Johnson, the officers apologized.
I'm not mad at the bank nearly as much as I am the police who should have DONE THEIR JOB and deescalated the situation rather than humiliating the victims. Which pathetic coward handcuffed a 12 year-old girl? That's not somebody who is worthy of a badge.— 𝙷𝚊𝚗𝚔 𝙿𝚊𝚝𝚝𝚒𝚜𝚘𝚗 is who I am Ω☠ (@HLHPattison) January 9, 2020
Roed then added that it was up to the arresting officer if they wanted to handcuff someone or not. In a phone interview, Roed told the CBC," it is a regrettable situation, and we don't want anybody to have to go through anything like this." Roed also added that the officers who had made the arrest had taken cultural competency training. Though the bank did not respond, they did issue a statement. "Although there were some mitigating circumstances, they do not excuse the way in which we handled the situation," the bank said in a statement to CBC News.
The passive wording of this headline is absurd. As if a child was handcuffed by a force or nature. Try this: “Racist Bank Employees Terrorize Child with help from Police”.— Johna L (@infinitehexagon) January 9, 2020
Soon after, Bank of Montreal posted a statement on social media. "We value our long and special relationship with Indigenous communities. Recently, an incident occurred that does not reflect us at our best. We deeply regret this and unequivocally apologize to all. We are reviewing what took place, how it was handled and will use this as a learning opportunity. We understand the importance and seriousness of this situation at the highest levels of the bank."
Un-frigging-believable! Never mind handcuffing a 12 yo child. What the hell is wrong with people for heaven's sake! It's like there's no independent thought anymore.— Sandi Adams (@mygrandmotherma) January 9, 2020
You bet - sue them into the next century.