A 70-year-old grandmother in Florida is suing her credit union of 50 years after she was allegedly denied access to her $600 deposit and later arrested inside the bank. According to News 6, civil rights attorney Ben Crump is representing Linda Stephens, 70, in a “banking while Black” lawsuit filed on Thursday (February 2) against Mid-Florida Credit Union.
“Mrs. Stephens is a Black grandmother who was a victim of banking while Black,” Crump said Thursday during a news conference.
In the suit, Stephens, a retired teacher and assistant principal for Polk County Schools, alleges that she deposited $600 into the ATM at Mid-Florida Credit Union to pay for her mortgage in April 2021. When the money didn’t appear to be posted on her account the next morning, Stephens returned to the bank with her receipt.
Stephens was told that she needed to wait a couple of hours because the ATM was broken, according to the suit.
“I waited all day checking my account online and there was nothing that indicated they had credited my money to my account,” Stephens said.
The retired teacher went back to the bank the following day, demanding her money because she needed to pay her mortgage.
Credit Union employees claimed she caused a disturbance and called the cops, who ended up arresting her and taking her to jail. Stephens says she asked to access her $600, per the suit.
According to the lawsuit, Stephens was “thrown face first into a police car” which left her nose “fractured.” She was also“stripped naked and transported to the jail annex” while in custody, the suit alleges.
Stephens spent a night in jail. The state attorney’s office ultimately declined to pursue criminal charges.
“I was just traumatized,” Stephens said. “I was humiliated. I was dehumanized. All because I wanted my money.”
Her lawyer says the situation would’ve played out differently if Stephens was a white woman.
“Every time one these cases, it turns out they [banks] say ‘we were wrong, we apologize to the Black customer.’ That’s why we believe that banking while Black is real and we don’t believe Mrs. Linda Stephens would have had the police called on her if she were a white woman,” Crump said.
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