A restaurant franchisee in Zion, Illinois, “proudly admitted” to police on Wednesday, Jan. 4, that he called a Black customer a racial slur in front of her two young children, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Twenty-one-year-old Deianeira Ford of Tinley Park, who is bi-racial, said she returned to the Dairy Queen restaurant in Zion to ask for a $5 refund, as she did not receive her full order. But the owner, who is white, refused to refund her her money and proceeded to call her and her children n-words.
The unfortunate incident garnered attention on social media after Ford took to Facebook to share the details of her encounter with the racist restaurant owner. She explained that at one point during the heated verbal exchange, her daughter asked what the racial slur meant. Ford also said that when she asked the owner his name, he responded, “Bill Clinton,” but then said, “Better yet, I’m Donald Trump.” He then told Ford to “go back where you came from.”
The whole experience was “embarrassing, and it was in front of my children,” Ford said in a telephone interview with the Chicago Tribune. “That was the hardest thing. He did it with my children in the back.”
The young woman then called police, and the responding officer said he found her in tears while the store owner furiously paced back and forth in the restaurant. He said the owner continued using racial slurs to describe African-Americans while being questioned about the incident.
“‘[He] boastfully told me he would be happy to go to jail over the issue and proudly admitted to calling Ford a slur. He added that he is ‘fed up with Black people,'” according to the officer’s report.
The officer then described how the owner complained about how “two of them” had squirted ketchup on his restaurant floor the night before. However, the restaurant owner seemingly changed his tune when contacted by the Lake-County News Sun, the local paper, and denied ever using the racially offensive language toward Ford and her children.
“It’s 99 percent lies,” he told the paper. “This is blown so far out of proportion, it’s stupid. Her order was confusing, and I told her, ‘Here’s your money back.’ This is blown so far out of proportion.”
To date, the restaurant owner hasn’t been charged with any wrongdoing, but Zion Police Chief Stephen Dumyahn said Thursday he was greatly disturbed by the man’s comments.
“I’m disgusted and discouraged by the comments made by this business owner,” Dumyahn said. “I reached out to Miss Ford to tell her that this does not represent the diverse community of Zion.”
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The News-Sun reported that Clyde McLemore of the Lake County Black Lives Matter chapter went to the Diary Queen after hearing of Ford’s encounter on social media, hoping to discuss race issues with the bigoted owner. That’s when the man alerted police — the same policeman who responded to the previous incident with the young mother.
In his report, the officer wrote that the restaurant owner didn’t recognize him from the last time and repeatedly belied his original story of using racial slurs.
The owner “did not recognize me as the officer who spoke to him [Wednesday] morning and I reminded him that he already admitted to me what he did and I was on the scene to handle the current complaint,” the officer wrote. “He continued to contradict his story about [Wednesday] morning to me several more times and was becoming angered that I did not believe him.”
In the wake of the racially charged incident, McLemore said the local Black Lives Matter chapter is planning to hold a peaceful protest at noon Saturday, Jan. 6 at the Dairy Queen.
Dairy Queen’s corporate headquarters also released a statement on the incident, noting that the Zion restaurant is not corporate owned.
“On behalf of the hardworking DQ franchisees and employees around the world, we apologize for the inappropriate actions of this franchisee in Zion,” Dean Peters, DQ’s director of communications, said in a statement. “It is not what our brand stands for and is not representative of American Dairy Queen Corporation or its franchisee community.
“We expect our franchisees and their employees to treat every single person who walks through their doors with the utmost dignity and respect,” he continued. “Nothing less is acceptable. Nevertheless, it is vital that they understand the importance of treating all of our fans with great respect.”