When You Try to Deposit a $150,000 Check in Kansas But Your Skin is Brown

Wichita, Kansas: An American Muslim doctoral student was arrested along with his family after attemping to deposit a $151,000 check. According to Wichita State’s student newspaper The Sunflower, Sattar Ali, took the check he received from the sale of his family’s house in Michigan to Wichita’s Emprise Bank along with verification documents, but a few minutes after he presented tellers with the check, he was in handcuffs.

When police took him outside, Ali discovered his wife Hadil and their 15-year-old daughter Hawra were detained in the backseat of the police car. Sometime during their three-hour detainment, Ali said police called his 11-year-old son’s school to tell them to hold him because his parents have been arrested.

He said he didn’t know the reason he and his family were being arrested until after they were released: the bank called the police because they could not verify the large check and believed it was 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 told The Sunflower he believes he and his family were racially profiled because the large check came from someone with his name and not 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?”

Ali, who along with his wife and children are American citizens, 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. He said the arrest marked his first time feeling unwelcome in Kansas.