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'We fell short': U.S. Bank CEO apologizes over treatment of Black customer at Columbia Heights branch

The incident surfaced this week thanks to a KSTP report.

Over a year after a Black man ended up in handcuffs while trying to cash his paycheck at a US Bank location, the head of the company is apologizing to the community.

This comes days after KSTP published its "Banking While Black" story, which brought to light police body cam video from an October 2020 incident at the bank's Columbia Heights branch. 

As KSTP reported, Joe Morrow was waylaid at the location after staff there suspected him of trying to cash a fraudulent check. The police were called, and officers handcuffed him — though, ultimately, the check was confirmed to be real. 

U.S. Bank "disputed Morrow's allegations of racial profiling but quietly agreed to a confidential settlement" with him two weeks after KSTP "started asking questions," the report notes.

However, the letter from U.S. Bank CEO Andy Cecere, issued Friday, marks a sharp change in tone from earlier statements. 

"I am deeply sorry for where we failed and accept full responsibility," Cecere writes:

Apology from U.S. Bank CEO Andy Cecere

Addressed to "our Minneapolis community," the letter goes on to highlight the company's "commitment to racial equity," with Cecere pointing out that all employees are required to complete "two levels" of unconscious bias training."

Nonetheless, Cecere adds, "we are revisiting and expanding our employee training and guidance on how to work with customers in a more empathetic manner, recognizing the need to be culturally sensitive."

The letter also notes U.S. Bank's past racial equity efforts, including "helping close the homeownership gap by hiring more Black loan officers and appraisers," and donating the 2800 Lake Street branch for community redevelopment following last year's George Floyd protests.

"We will continue to listen and learn from the community as we expand our efforts to advance the cause of equality for all," Cecere concludes.

U.S. Bank is headquartered in downtown Minneapolis, and operates more than 2,000 branches across 26 states, according to the company's fact sheet. 

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