By Ryan Velez
The African-American community has long been dealing with instances of racial profiling while using activism and whatever political capital we have available to fight it. However, it also bears noting, especially in the current political climate, that many of the forces hurting the Black community affect other minorities as well, and such instances deserve to be reported. One such recent instance is reported by Rawstory, where an Iraqi-American doctoral student and his family were arrested after attempting to deposit a house-sale check at a Kansas bank.
The story was originally reported by Wichita State’s student newspaper The Sunflower. Sattar Ali, who moved to the United States in 1993, took a check for $151,000 to Wichita’s Emprise Bank. The check was from the sale of his old home in Michigan. While this seems like a simple enough errand, but as Ali explained to local news station KAKE, he was within handcuffs a few minutes after presenting the check. As an added note, Ali had brought verification documents with him to the bank. Not only was he arrested, but he discovered that his wife Hadil and their 15-year-old daughter Hawra were already in the back seat of the police car. The two also have an 11-year old son, who had to be held at his school after police informed the school that his parents were arrested.
It wouldn’t be until after the three-hour detainment when Ali was told that the reason his family were held is that the bank could not verify the check and believed it to be fraudulent.
“No one told me why I was being arrested until we were being released,” Ali told The Sunflower. “They didn’t read me rights or anything.”
“We were devastated. Terrified. Crying the whole time,” Ali said. “We had no idea what the arrest was for.” Ali believes that racial profiling had a role in their arrest, believing that the large check would not have caused an issue if it didn’t come from someone named “James or Robert.”
“Let’s assume I made a mistake and gave them a bad check,” Ali said. “Why would they arrest my wife and daughter?”
Both American citizens, Ali and his wife lived in Wichita from 1998 to 2008, and was returning to get his doctorate in engineering from Wichita State, where his eldest son is a freshman. “I would expect this in the 1950s,” Ali said. “Not now.”