Sen. Lena Taylor on incident at Wells Fargo: 'I wish that I had chose a different use of words'

MILWAUKEE -- It was a day most employees at the Wells Fargo bank in downtown Milwaukee likely won't soon forget. Senator Lena Taylor, seen in surveillance video provided to FOX6 News by Senator Taylor herself, stood at the desk waiting for help after she was told the information she wanted couldn't be provided.

She wanted to find out if there were sufficient funds in the account of a check she wanted to cash. The problem was, the account wasn't hers. Employees told her they weren't allowed to give her any information on an account that wasn't hers. That's when, according to bank employees, things got ugly.

Wells Fargo bank, 8th & Wisconsin, Milwaukee


Bank video: "So she said (bleep)..."

"I said it more than one time. I said it more than one time. That he was a house negro," said Senator Taylor.

Those words, and Taylor's behavior that Friday afternoon left employee rattled.


Bank video (bank employee): "And from what I hear, she does that quite often too. I voted for her before, but didn't know her personality until now. I was like what?"

Bank video (bank employee): "She made me feel like she was trying to intimidate us, you know, into giving her what she wanted. She said to me, she was like, 'oh, oh, are you rollin' your eyes at me?' I'm like, 'I'm taking care of my customer.' So she was like, really, really rude."


That's when they called over police, who were already at the bank for another incident. After interviewing all of the players, she was issued a citation for disorderly conduct.



Bank video (Lena Taylor, reading a slip of paper): "You said the known actor was visibly upset, waving her arms..."

Bank video (officer): "Yup, pointing your finger."

Bank video (Lena Taylor): "Oh my goodness."

Bank video (officer): "And then you used a racial slur on one of the individuals back there."

Bank video (Lena Taylor): "A racial slur?"

Bank video (officer): "Yes ma'am."

Bank video (Lena Taylor): "What racial slur was that? What racial slur was that?"

Bank video (officer): "You want me to tell you?"

Bank video (Lena Taylor): "Yes please."

Bank video (officer): "OK. You called an individual back there a house negro."

Bank video (Lena Taylor): "That's what you were told?"

Bank video (officer): "Yes."

Bank video (Lena Taylor): "Oh, OK."

Bank video (officer): "They found that offensive."

Bank video (Lena Taylor): "OK."

FOX6's Mary Stoker Smith sat down with the fourth-term senator, who said the incident was blown out of proportion.

"I was not flailing my arms and pointing at the people. Not at all. I know how to handle myself. I'm a lawyer by profession. I've grown up in the city, I know how to handle myself," said Taylor.

Taylor said she feels she's a victim of racism and sexism.

"Black women are often sometimes pigeonholed into being the angry black woman because of how we express ourselves. Women are treated differently," said Taylor.

She said she's being targeted and trampled on because she speaks her mind.

"I do know that I don't take no stuff. I speak up. I do know that," said Taylor.

As for the derogatory term she used, she said it wasn't a racial slur at all.

"Mary, that's not correct. They called it a racial slur. I don't think that that was it, so..." said Taylor

FOX6's Mary Stoker Smith: "You don't think it was a racial slur?"

"No I don't," said Taylor.

FOX6's Mary Stoker Smith: "It's not a term of endearment."

"Sigh," said Taylor.

Taylor may be standing her ground, but she admitted she'd like a do-over regarding her expression.

"I wish, right, that I had chose a different use of words," said Taylor.

The Milwaukee native said her often outspoken and aggressive style is a byproduct of growing up in a city that demanded she get tough to survive.

"Outta this city, I grew outta the concrete. I grew outta the cracks of that concrete. What do I mean by that? The chances of me being where I am," said Taylor.

And who she is, she said, is a senator who has fought for her constituents and won't resign, despite this set-back and being recently stripped of her seat on the Joint Finance Committee because an investigation found she bullied staff members and retaliated against one in particular.

Lena Taylor

"What I'm going to so is continue to do is fight for my people -- stand up for those who were treated unfairly -- be a voice for the voiceless," said Taylor.