Police Called on Georgia Doctor Attempting to Open Bank Account
|thenorthstar||Sep 19, 2019|
A Georgia doctor said he was forced to deal with police after a bank teller called 911 on him as he attempted to open a new bank account with his wife. Dr. Anthony Onyegbula, who is Black, alleges a bank employee racially profiled him.
The doctor, who treats cancer patients in Henry County, told WSB-TV that he was at the United Community Bank on Eagles Landing Parkway in Stockbridge, Georgia to open a bank account with his wife. Unbeknownst to him, as he spoke to his wife on the phone outside of the bank, a bank teller was talking to 911 claiming he appeared to be “up to no good.”
“He went to the front door and he’s been on his phone, and, I, um, called from my phone to tell the employees to lock the front door,” the bank employee said during the 911 call, according to a transcript shared by WSB-TV.
The 911 caller continued: “He’s been on his phone out front. And we have no cars in the parking lot. He’s a walker. So, I feel like he’s up to no good.”
When Onyegbula went to open the door of the bank, he noticed that the door was locked. “I looked at the door and it said close at 4:30 and my time say about 2:15, 2:10. I’m like what happened?” he told WSB-TV.
Onyegbula said he and his wife eventually went to a nearby bank. However, they soon learned that the police had been called for him. “Here come the same police, came inside the bank, now it’s two of them, and they said they told the manager to clear the room, because they wanted to talk to us,” he said.
The doctor was told he was deemed suspicious by the bank employee. “They said I was suspicious, I was wearing a hat, and they thought I wanted to rob the bank, and I was like, ‘What?’” he said.
After speaking to Onyegbula, police left without filing charges against him. The doctor, who said he felt it was a case of racial profiling, told WSB-TV: “Until it happens to you, you never know what it feels like.” He added that the anger, confusion, and embarrassment he feels after the incident is unlikely to disappear anytime soon.
“I think they need training on how to deal with people,” Onyegbula said. “You cannot judge someone from the outside.”
In a statement, the regional president for United Community Bank said that the bank does not comment publicly about the details of customers or potential customers.
“However, providing excellent customer service is our top priority and we are disappointed that we didn’t deliver that to Drs. Onyegbula and Tedga in this case,” the statement read. “This afternoon we were able to speak directly with Drs. Onyegbula and Tedga to personally apologize for the misunderstanding. We are glad for the opportunity to connect and improve, and hope to have an opportunity to earn their business in the future.”
United Community Bank’s Facebook page has been inundated with comments criticizing it for remaining silent on the incident and for allowing it to happen in the first place.
“I guess it’s a great bank if you’re not a Black doctor trying to open an account,” wrote Gregg Alston. “I read that you guys don’t want Black people’s money in your bank. I saw where you locked your doors and called the police on a doctor who wanted to open an account. Wow… well, at least you’re upfront with your policies.”
Many said the bank should fire the employee involved. Sherri Marie suggested bank employees needed diversity and inclusion training.
“Until I hear that the disgusting, racist employee was fired, I will consider your bank to also be disgusting and racist!” May Mabel Jo Potter wrote. “Take your money elsewhere folks!!”
Facebook users accused the bank of deleting their comments, although many could still be found. The bank has not released any additional comment.
The United Community Bank employee involved has not been identified. It is unclear if the employee has been reprimanded or fired for the incident.
About the Author
Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various publications, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.