NFL Player Says He Was Racially Profiled and Kicked Out of a Chipotle: 'We Are Tired of This'
"We have a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind and we have suspended our manager while we conduct a thorough investigation," said Brian Niccol, chairman and CEO of Chipotle
Indianapolis Colts player Darius Leonard says he was a victim of racial profiling at a Chipotle in South Carolina, detailing an incident that saw him and his party allegedly kicked out from the restaurant.
In a video posted to Instagram on Thursday, Leonard, who is Black, said he was recently eating at a Chipotle in Florence with four friends who were all non-white. When a white customer allegedly said Leonard was "verbally abusing him" and "talking trash," the party was approached by the restaurant's manager, Leonard said.
The NFL star added that he denied the accusation, yet the the Chipotle manager treated him with a "terrible attitude" and was "very disrespectful." After the manager threatened to call the police, the 24-year-old and his friends were kicked out of the restaurant, according to Leonard's account.
“That’s what being Black in America is right now,” Leonard said in his video. “Us not even doing anything wrong, going out to eat with your family, just trying to spend a little bit of quality time, and you can’t even enjoying eating anymore.”
Chipotle — which did not immediately return PEOPLE's request for comment — responded to the accusations in a statement to the Indianapolis Star, saying they are "investigating the incident."
"We have a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind and we have suspended our manager while we conduct a thorough investigation," Brian Niccol, chairman and CEO of Chipotle, told the outlet. "I’ve personally reached out to Darius and I’m committed to ensuring the appropriate action is taken once the investigation concludes."
The alleged incident comes amid a time where the treatment of the Black community has been at the forefront of national attention due to Black Lives Matter. The group has helped to organize protests around the country since the May 25 death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
"We’re talking about Black Lives Matter, for a guy to look at us and lie and laugh in our faces as we walk out, and the manager... basically kicked us out of Chipotle," Leonard said. "That’s the white privilege we’re talking about."
"There’s no Black guy who can sit there and eat peacefully without being racially profiled," he continued. "We know that if the manager would have called the cops right then and there, we know what would have went down. It's wrong in America... we are tired of this."
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Leonard won the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award in 2018 and made the NFL's All-Pro team in 2019. The Colts selected him in the second round of the 2018 NFL draft.
To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:
• Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
• ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.
• National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help Black youth succeed in college and beyond.