Chili’s has apologized to a black veteran in Texas who was denied a free meal at the restaurant on Veteran’s Day after a white veteran sporting a Donald Trump shirt questioned his service.
According to Fox 4 News, 47-year-old U.S. Army veteran Ernest Walker, along with his service dog, Barack, went into a Chili’s restaurant on Veterans Day in Cedar Hill, Texas, which is near Dallas. Chili’s was offering free meals for veterans, so Walker went to grab a burger.
KTVT reports that Walker was wearing a military uniform without a nametag that he had bought after retiring from the military.
In two separate Facebook posts, Walker explained that he went to Chili’s with his service dog because he’s on Dialysis and the dog monitors his blood pressure. He said the meal was going well and that his waitress “was wonderful.” However as he asked for a to-go box from his waitress, “a old white guy wearing a Trump flag shirt,” whom Walker guesses was in his 70s, walked by him while going to the bathroom. When the man came back from the bathroom, he asked him what unit he served in. After Walker said he was in the 25th infantry division, the man responded saying he served in Germany during World War II and that “we did not see people like you over there” because they wouldn’t allow blacks.
At that point, according to Walker, a manager came over and asked to see his documents. Walker showed his DD214, which is his military discharge paperwork, as well as his military ID. The manager then questioned Walker’s service dog, who was wearing a red service vest and had his certified service tags, and Walker started filming at that point. In the video, the manager claims, “I’m so sorry. You didn’t provide any documents to me.” But Walker replied, “Yes I did just provide documents to you, and they saw you.” In the video, you can see the manager take Walker’s to-go box away from him—which, Walker wrote on Facebook, left him “grossly offended, embarrassed, [and] dehumanized.”
In a statement to Fox 4 News, a Chili’s spokesperson wrote, “Our goal is to make every guest feel special and, unfortunately, we fell short on a day where we serve free meals as a small token to honor our Veterans…We are taking this very seriously and the leaders in our company are actively involved with the goal of making it right.”
But Walker told the Dallas Morning News that Chili’s has yet to apologize directly to him. He also said he felt the election has “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.
What are your thoughts on the incident?