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Chili’s apologizes for taking meal from Black Veteran on Veterans Day

Chili’s apologizes for taking meal from Black Veteran on Veterans Day

U.S. Army veteran Ernest Walker says a manager, who has since been removed, took his food after a customer wearing a Trump shirt questioned his service.

Rebecca Shapiro, Senior Editor, The Huffington Post


U.S. Army veteran Ernest Walker started recording video when a manager at a Chili’s Restaurant in Cedar Hill, Texas, questioned his military service and took away his food.

Like some other establishments around the country, Chili’s offered free meals to veterans and active military service members on Veterans Day. Walker wrote on his Facebook page that he was eating at Chili’s with his service dog, Barack, when an elderly customer wearing a Trump shirt came up to him. “He said he was in Germany, and that they did not let Blacks serve over there,” Walker wrote.

Soon after, Walker said the restaurant’s manager approached him and said that a fellow customer said Walker was “not a real soldier because [he] had [his] hat on indoors.” He asked to see identification, and continued to question Walker. Eventually, he took his food away, even though Walker showed him his military ID and discharge paperwork.

Walker posted the video, which has been viewed more than 350,000 times, to Facebook. He wrote that the incident made him feel “grossly offended, embarrassed, dehumanized.” On Friday, protesters organized outside the Chili’s restaurant to support Walker.

Chili’s responded to critics calling for the manager to be fired on Facebook. The restaurant chain said it elevated the situation to the highest levels of the company, and “fell short” on its “goal to make every guest feel special.” The company also apologized in a prepared statement and said it was reaching out to Walker.

Walker told the Dallas Morning News that he felt the election had “changed the hearts” of people.

“I do believe that the election has changed the hearts and changed the motives of people so much so that he believed in his heart and mind after talking to the Trump supporter that I was stealing food,” Walker said.

Late Monday, Chili’s president Kelli Valade released a statement saying that the company had removed, though not fired, the manager who took away Walker’s food. The statement also said the restaurant chain had personally apologized to Walker.

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