Sattar Ali emigrated to the United States with his family in 1993. He recently sold a home he owned in Michigan and moved to Kansas. When the house sold, he naturally went to a local bank to deposit the money from the sale into his account. But that one simple act led to his entire family being arrested by police.
The check Ali took to Wichita’s Emprise Bank was for $151,000, and shortly after he presented the check to a teller and showed his identification, handcuffs were being placed on his wrists.
Ali was led outside the bank and immediately noticed that his wife Hadil and their 15-year-old daughter Hawra were already in a police car, waiting for him. Authorities also called the school his 11-year-old son attends and told them to hold the child because his parents were in custody.
It wasn’t until after the Ali family was released from a local jail that they were informed the bank had called police because the teller suspected the large check might be fraudulent. And Ali said at no time was the situation explained to him:
“No one told me why I was being arrested until we were being released. They didn’t read me rights or anything.
“We were devastated. Terrified. Crying the whole time. We had no idea what the arrest was for.”
And now Sattar Ali says he’s convinced that he was racially profiled:
“Let’s assume I made a mistake and gave them a bad check. Why would they arrest my wife and daughter?”
Looking back on the event, Ali says he’s still amazed it happened to him and his family:
“I would expect this in the 1950s. Not now.”
In some ugly and incredibly disturbing ways, this country remains stuck in the 1950s.
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