An African-American veteran had his meal at Chili’s snatched away from him by a manager after he says he was accused of being a fake soldier by a white man wearing a Donald Trump shirt.
Ernest Walker, who served in the 25th Infantry Division in the US Army, said he was in Dallas eating a free meal given out by Chili’s on Veterans Day when an elderly man in a Trump shirt approached and asked him if he was in the 24th Unit.
‘No, 25th,’ Walker said he replied.
”They didn’t let you blacks over in World War II.’ That’s exactly what he said to me,’ Walker told CBS 11.
‘He said he was in Germany, and that they did not let blacks serve over there,’ Walker wrote on Facebook after the incident.
African-Americans did serve in World War II although officially segregated from white soldiers, according to The National World War II Museum.
After the man left, Walker, who recounted the incident on Facebook, said he was approached by a manager who told him that the elderly man had complained that Walker couldn’t be a ‘real soldier’ because he was wearing his hat indoors.
He identified the manager as a man named Wesley Patrick and filmed the altercation.
After Walker provided the manager with his military ID and his discharge papers, the manager began to question whether the dog who was with Walker, was a real service dog.
The dog, named Barack, was wearing his red service vest and his certified service dog tags.
In the video, Walker repeatedly asks the manager, who is trying to get him to leave, whether he had just showed him his military papers. The manager refuses to answer.
Finally, the manager says ‘No’ but people nearby speak up to say he had seen them.
The manager then takes away Walker’s meal.
‘I was grossly offended, embarrassed and dehumanized,’ said Walker.
‘This overzealous manager comes out, and instead of talking to me man-to-man, he treated me as if I was a black man stealing a meal. Honestly, that’s what it looked like,’ he told CBS Local.
As protesters gathered outside of the Cedar Hill Chili’s on Saturday, the chain restaurant issued an apology, saying: ‘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.’
Walker says he has received no personal apology, however.
‘They still haven’t validated me as a soldier,’ he told . ‘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,” he told NBC5.
Thousands of people offered their support for Walker on his Facebook page, with many soldiers saying they would boycott Chili’s in solidarity while hundreds excoriated Chili’s on its Facebook wall.
So far Chili’s has not issued word on what, if anything, will happen to the manager, but Walker says he needs to be ‘reprimanded or fired.’