Banking While Black — Chase Calls Cops on Mayor Thomas

Mayor Richard Thomas
3 min readApr 30, 2019

On April 24 I went to the offices of JP Morgan Chase to inspect the City’s electronic banking records and to deposit a six-figure check.

I wasn’t able to do either.

Instead, staff at the bank called 911, allegedly because my bodyguard-a Mount Vernon Police detective-was armed. Mind you, the call to police was made about 90 minutes after I introduced the police detective to staff there and after we were allowed into a conference room to wait to see our City’s banking representative.

We’ve all read reports of the police being called on black people as they go about their daily business. We’ve seen the infamous social media videos and hashtags of #PermitPatty, #BBQBetty, and #GolfCartGail. Now I’m adding #TattleTeller to the hashtag list.

Last week I asked the CEO of Chase to explain why #TattleTeller called the cops on me. I’m still awaiting a response. We all deserve an answer, so here is my letter to Chase:

Jaime Dimon, Chairman & CEO

JP MORGAN CHASE

New York, New York

Re: POLICE CALLED ON MAYOR FOR SEEKING ACCESS & ANSWERS TO HIS CITY’S ACCOUNTS

Dear Chairman Dimon,

I’m writing you with a sense of pride about our City and the 70,000 citizens and 900 employees I represent in the best location in New York.

We are in a period of profound political and economic change — and even with that tumult-it is remarkable how much my administration has accomplished in our steadfast dedication to our citizens.

However yesterday, I was astounded that none of my administration’s accomplishments mattered to our financial partners-your JP MORGAN CHASE officials -when I visited Chase’s offices in White Plains at 925 Westchester Ave.

I went to Chase’s offices to speak with Ed Muendell, Executive Director Government, and instead of getting some needed face time, your staff evaded questions and called White Plains Police on me.

At the time your staff called the police, we were in a Chase conference room where we were placed, having already been invited into Chase’s offices.

We were subjected to an extensive waiting time for someone to address us, then a lengthy wait for a callback, then a phone conversation and then more waiting on a callback.

After all that, the police were summoned for no reason and no disturbance.

As the leader of the City of Mount Vernon, which has substantial accounts with JP Morgan Chase, I expected professional courtesy and cooperation. I was dressed in a suit and tie and accompanied by a staff member and a Mount Vernon Police detective, also dressed in a suit. I introduced both.

We were very transparent, polite and kind at all times, asking for simple account information. At no time did my security detail, the detective, brandish a gun or make any threats, as was alleged to my staff member by your Chase employee who relayed that staff was warned of a threat of someone in the building with a gun.

Thank GOD that one of the many responding officers trained my security detail. Otherwise, this could have escalated to a tragedy.

If this was not so pathetic, it would be funny. But I’m not laughing because someone could have been killed because of a miscommunication.

As a Mayor and as a young, well-educated black man living during this turbulent time in society where police are being called on black people for going about everyday life, this is unacceptable.

We’ve seen this happen to two black men at a Starbucks in Philadelphia. We’ve also seen this happen to Oregon Rep. Janelle Bynum while she was campaigning. Now it happened to me.

I just wanted you, as a respected and admired executive and leader, to know this. Please address this inappropriate and unnecessary behavior at your office.

Respectfully yours,

Richard Thomas

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Mayor Richard Thomas

At 33, Richard Thomas is the youngest Mayor in Mount Vernon history! (2016–2019) Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MayorRichardThomas