The 24-year-old called that a lie, stating “we did absolutely nothing wrong” and that management threatened to call the police.
“That’s what being black in America is right now,” Leonard said, “us not even doing anything wrong, going out to eat with your family, just trying to spend a little bit of quality time. You can’t enjoy eating anymore.”
Chipotle Chairman and CEO Brian Niccol said the company is looking into the situation.
“We are currently investigating the incident involving Darius Leonard in Florence, South Carolina,” Niccol said in a statement to the Indianapolis Star. “We have a zero tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind and we have suspended our manager while we conduct a thorough investigation. I’ve personally reached out to Darius and I’m committed to ensuring the appropriate action is taken once the investigation concludes.”
The 2018 NFL defensive rookie of the year said the accuser laughed as they left the restaurant.
“That’s the white privilege we’re talking about,” Leonard said. “There’s no black guy [who] can sit there and eat peacefully without being racially profiled. We know that if that manager would have called the cops right then and there, we know what would have went down.”
Leonard told ESPN’s “First Take” on Friday that he spoke with Niccol on Thursday, but an apology isn’t enough.
“Just firing the manager is not going to do everything,” Leonard said. “What you need to do is go out and continue to show a diverse community that that’s not who we are. And that’s what I want them to do: I want them to step up and take a step forward into change, instead of just apologizing.”
Leonard told ESPN that he was dining with his brother, his brother’s girlfriend and two friends. He said the manager’s demeanor changed when he told him who he was.
“It sucks that you have to be someone in the public eye that they look up to to get treated equally,” Leonard said. “Besides me playing football or anything, I am a human being. I want to be treated as everyone else.”
In his Instagram video, Leonard pointed to the Black Lives Matter protests that have taken place across the country following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
“We are tired of this,” he said. “We are tired of it. And y’all white people, y’all don’t understand what we go through. This is very frustrating. Very frustrating. Y’all don’t feel our damn pain. If y’all sit in our damn shoes for one day, one day and just walk outside and really feel what we go through, y’all would understand something.
“Y’all got it made. We don’t. And I’m tired of it,” he continued. “Y’all see the police killing us. Y’all seeing all the injustices that we go through. I live it. Day in and day out. And, I’m f------ tired of it. Yes, I’m upset. I’m tired of it.”
The Colts issued a statement Thursday defending their star linebacker: “Darius’s experience demonstrates the struggle so many Black Americans and people of color face every day. It also demonstrates why we need serious action from our government leaders, law enforcement, businesses, and everyday Americans to end systemic racism and injustice and to continue this important dialogue on how to inspire positive change in our country.”
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