Photo: ‘Black Panther’
‘Black Panther’ director Ryan Coogler was arrested in January by police in Atlanta, Georgia. He was suspected to be a bank robber when he attempted to withdraw funds from his account. He recently has released the statement that Bank of America contacted him immediately following his detainment and has unequivocally apologized for the series of events that led to his arrest. Coogler stated that he has reached a level of satisfaction with Bank of America and that they have addressed all of his concerns and issues with the situation and what happened.
The arrest of Coogler, while it has been resolved still leaves numerous questions, especially concerning how this could have happened and why the first response to a Black man withdrawing a large sum of money is met with the assumption that he is a thief and must be immediately arrested? Coogler’s arrest and detainment bring up recent societal discussions and issues, highlighting tensions and problems concerning how Black people are still treated as second-class citizens in America to this day.
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‘Black Panther’ Director Ryan Coogler Mistaken as Bank Robber
On January 7, Ryan Coogler entered a Bank of America in Atlanta, Georgia in an attempt to withdraw $12,000. The reason why he was withdrawing such a large amount of money was in order to pay a medical assistant for their work on his latest film ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.’ He was withdrawing this amount of money in U.S. dollars because the medical worker expressed to him that they prefer to be paid in cash. When Coogler reached the bank’s teller he slipped her a handwritten note which stated that he preferred to have the money counted discreetly. The note read, “I would like to withdraw $12,000 cash from my checking account. Please do the money count somewhere else. I’d like to be discreet.”
When the bank teller received this note, she was alerted by an alarm triggered by the bank’s internal system. She misinterpreted the alarm and assumed that Coogler, who was simply trying to withdraw his own money, was in fact a bank robber. She has since stated that she was unsure if he had a gun, and was further concerned by this note that he had slipped to her. She then chose to notify the bank’s branch manager and together they called the police. When the police arrived they also detained two associates of Coogler’s that were parked in a dark Lexus outside of the bank and who had admitted that they were there waiting for the ‘Black Panther’ director.
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Ryan Coogler, Arrested and Wrongfully Detained
‘Black Panther’ director, Ryan Coogler, in the bank’s wrongful suspicion of him as a bank robber was arrested and immediately detained by the police officers that arrived on scene. Bodycam footage of the arrest shows Coogler acting in full compliance with the Atlanta officers while voicing his surprise and vocal protest to his arrest. The officers handcuffed Coogler and took him outside for detainment where they placed him in one of their squad cars for questioning. Coogler’s colleagues were also detained and placed in the back of a separate patrol car. After the police “verified his identity,” they removed his handcuffs and released him immediately. While his arrest and detainment were temporary, it is still a shocking example of the division of race and exception of attitude that is afforded to certain people in this country.
Coogler has since commented on this incident and has stated that, “This situation should never have happened.” Coogler went on to elaborate on the situation stating that when he first encountered the bank’s teller he “used his bank card and PIN and had given her his ID.” The confusion of why this withdrawal was even an issue still underlines the question of why the police were involved in the first place. Coogler was simply attempting to withdraw funds from his own account and even with supplying adequate proof of his identification, the teller, as well as the bank’s manager, assumed that he was nothing more than a thief impersonating “someone” who would actually have access to this amount of money.
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What Does the Wrongful Arrest and Detainment of Ryan Coogler Say About the Existence of Racism in America?
The underlying issue of Ryan Coogler’s arrest and detainment is of paramount importance. While this issue is not one of police bias it is one of systemic prejudice. Ryan Coogler, when he entered this Bank of America was most likely to be the last person to assume that him requesting to withdraw a sizable amount of money from his own account would then lead to his prompt arrest and detainment. There is no reasonable explanation for why both the bank’s teller and manager were to suspect that Coogler was a bank robber. The teller has stated that because he slipped her a note asking for discretion, she then presumed that he was holding up the bank and that he might have had a gun. Did she fail to acknowledge or remember the several items of proof and identification that he provided to her to be able to gain access to his own money?
It is a completely reasonable and even wise request to ask for discretion and privacy when handling and carrying so much money on one’s person. Furthermore, why did the bank’s manager who was privy to this information agree that Coogler must be none other than a hostile bank robber? The hypocrisy of this branch’s actions is shocking as they must deal with a countless number of people withdrawing any amount of money at any given time.
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Why was it that when a Black man simply desires to withdraw $12,000 and provides proof of his identification and account information, he is quickly assumed to be an armed thief who should be met with the force of the law? This arrest and detainment of Coogler outline the systemic prejudice still found in America and it shows that even the elite are at the mercy of these insidious stereotypical beliefs. It is clear that there are formed assumptions tied directly to race in America. Society’s only hope is that unjust incidents like these can serve as examples for how these presumptions are wholly wrong and that one should never jump to conclusions about anyone based on their race or the color of their skin.
By Thomas Jacobs
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Thomas Jacobs is an avid writer, Cinema aficionado, and filmmaker. He graduated with Dean’s Honors from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a major in Film and Digital Media. His passion is directly tied to the appreciation and creation of film and television, and this fact is reflected in his intent to be a writer for the acclaimed entertainment journal, The Hollywood Insider. His beliefs mirror the core goals and mission statement of The Hollywood Insider by sharing an admiration for quality entertainment as well as bolstering a sense of positivity and equality among all humans. Thomas believes that Cinema is an advantageous promoter of civil and social empowerment, and he shares a mutual societal view with The Hollywood Insider, that people should not be judged by the color of their skin, but the content of their character.