Wichita police arrest Iraqi-American family after father tried to deposit a check
Police arrested three members of an Iraqi-American family in Wichita, Kansas last week after the father tried to deposit a check at a local chapter of Emprise Bank. Sattar Ali, his wife, and his 15-year-old daughter were held in custody for three hours at the downtown police station before being released on zero charges for their completely normal behavior.
The family recently sold their home in Dearborn, Michigan and moved to Wichita so Ali could finish his doctoral degree in mechanical engineering at Wichita State, where his 18-year-old son attends as an undergraduate. The check, for just over $151,000, came from the house’s sale.
“I went to the bank to deposit the check and I took all of the documents with me to verify,” Ali told the local ABC affiliate. “I told them I don’t need it until I find a house. So keep the check with you, verify, take your time.”
The bank called the police almost immediately. In less than five minutes, Ali said, officers arrived, confiscated his belongings, and placed him in handcuffs. He said 15 patrol cars surrounded his family’s vehicle in the parking lot, where his wife and daughter were waiting, and arrested them too. Police separated and detained the family members in three different rooms at the station.
“They didn’t say why or what happened or what did we do,” Ali said. “I’m trying to figure out what did we do.”
The Wichita Police Department issued a statement claiming they were called to the bank to investigate a forgery. Detectives verified the legitimacy of Ali’s check’s and released the family. Emprise Bank issued a statement defending its employees’ racist actions.
“We are aware of a situation at the 21st and Woodlawn branch yesterday and can confirm that our team acted in accordance with our policies and procedures,” the statement said. “If faced with the same circumstances today, we would expect our team to take the same actions.”
I would say it’s unclear why the bank didn’t just verify the check on site without involving the police, but it’s pretty clear.
“Does Wichita not welcome any foreigners? Then tell us,” Ali said. “Be up front and forward with people and say, you are not welcome in our city.”
Ali, an American citizen, has been living in the United States since 1993.