Ali family, give Wichita another look

Sattar Ali, left, and his family.
Sattar Ali, left, and his family.

Sattar Ali,

We hope you’ll give our community another chance. Wichita is so much better than what we showed you one afternoon last week.

We can imagine what went through your mind when you were handcuffed, put in the back of a squad car and taken to police headquarters Sept. 6.

All because you wanted to deposit what turned out to be a legitimate $151,000 check at an Emprise Bank location.

But the bank couldn’t verify your check and called police, following what it says are normal procedures when there are red flags about a check.

It got sorted out after three hours. Police verified your check. You were released, and the money is in your account so that you can put it toward the purchase of a home in Wichita.

But now, understandably, you’re second-guessing your decision to move back here from Michigan to continue your doctoral work at Wichita State University. We certainly understand. You think you were racially profiled as a Muslim man. Unfortunately, it is not unreasonable to suspect that in today’s world.

Would police have been called for a possible attempted forgery if you were a middle-age white man? Bank executives say yes and are adamant that race was not a factor. But would four law-enforcement officers normally arrive for a call about a possible forgery? Would you have been handcuffed and detained by police? Would your wife and 15-year-old daughter, waiting in the car, have been detained if they weren’t wearing hijabs?

Bank executives say the police response to the call was not typical. One law enforcement spokesman says the response was normal for a report of a felony in progress.

Emprise Bank and Wichita police have apologized to you while standing by their policies – a sign that they think the situation could have been handled differently.

In the meantime, we hope public reaction has shown you the type of city we strive to be. We’re behind you.

Yes, there are some who think this isn’t a big deal, or complain that everything has to come down to racism.

But they probably aren’t Muslim. Or persons of color. Or of any minority.

We think those loud skeptics are few in our community. The large majority of Wichitans are good people who want to see every person given an equal chance. To be treated equally – by other individuals, businesses and law enforcement.

Give Wichita a second chance, Mr. Ali. You’ve lived here before. You know there are good folks throughout the city.

While you were gone, we went through a resurgence. Community pride is on the rise. We want to be a city that is inclusive and recognizes that the diversity we possess in a mostly white Plains state is a valuable and wonderful thing.

This city wants you to find the perfect family home, continue work on your doctoral degree and raise your three children to be as proud of their community as we are.

We look forward to being your neighbors again.