A Cedar Hill, Texas, Chili’s has apologized to a Black veteran for taking back his meal on Veteran’s Day. They also suspended the manager involved in the incident.
According to the Huffington Post, the establishment offered veterans free meals on the federal holiday, but apparently after a man wearing a Donald Trump shirt questioned whether U.S. Army veteran Ernest Walker actually served his country, the manager snatched his dinner away.
Walker wrote on his Facebook page that he was eating at the chain restaurant with his service dog, Barack, when an elderly customer wearing a Trump shirt approached him and said, “He said he was in Germany, and that they did not let Blacks serve over there.”
According to Walker, soon after, the restaurant’s manager confronted Walker and told him that a customer said that he wasn’t “a real soldier because [he] had [his] hat on indoors.”
Walker also shared a video of the incident.
Even worse: Despite showing the manager his military ID and discharge paperwork, his dinner was still removed from his table. He was told that his dog was not really a service dog.
“I looked around and I’m embarrassed at this point,” Walker said. “People are looking. I’m a soldier. I’m a person and everybody’s looking like I stole food.“
After Walker’s video went viral and residents protested in front of the restaurant calling for the manager to be fired on Friday, Chili’s released a statement on Walker’s FB page:
“We are aware of the situation that occurred at our Chili’s Cedar Hill restaurant on November 11th. Our goal is to make every guest feel special and unfortunately we fell short on a day where we serve more than 180,000 free meals as a small token to honor our Veterans and active military for their service, hence these actions do not reflect the beliefs of our brand. We are taking this very seriously and the leaders in our company are actively involved with the goal of making it right. Since the incident occurred, we have extended an apology and we are reaching out to the guest.”
But Walker isn’t hearing any of that.
“They’re doing what they should do, but they still haven’t validated me as a soldier,” said Walker told NBC 5. “I just need him to say, ‘I see your ID, I see your DD214, and I respect you as a soldier, and as a man and as a customer.’“
Walker told the Dallas Morning News that the recent presidential election is to blame for his ill treatment, stressing that it “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,” he said.