Kempczinski allegedly blamed parents of two murder victims in a text exchange with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot
McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski is under fire after he allegedly blamed the parents of two murder victims in a text message to Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot.
McDonald’s employees and activists have said that the text messages are inherently racist and exposes the company’s ecosystem.
The text message exchange between the duo was unearthed by a Chicago activist under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, reported WBEZ.
In the messages from 19 April, Mr Kempczinski referred to the shootings of 7-year-old Jaslyn Adams and 13-year-old Adam Toledo to Ms Lightfoot and said: “P.s. tragic shootings in last week, both at our restaurant yesterday and with Adam Toldeo [sic]. With both, the parents failed those kids which I know is something you can’t say. Even harder to fix.”
Ms Lightfoot, who had visited the McDonald’s headquarters earlier in the day, responded: “Thanks, Chris. Great to see you in person. Such a great work space, and your folks were terrific. I said to Joe I would be happy reach [sic] out to the operator to offer support. He and his team members have got to be traumatized. Terrible tragedy. Thanks again, Chris. MLL.”
Toldeo, a Mexican American teenager, was shot dead by a police officer in Chicago on 29 March, while Adams, a young Black girl, was shot in her car while she was waiting with her father at a McDonald’s drive through in Chicago.
McDonald’s employees and activists have written an open letter to Mr Kempczinski, calling out his text message for being “racist.”
“It’s clear to us you’re the one who has failed here. Your text message was ignorant, racist and unacceptable coming from anyone, let alone the CEO of McDonald’s, a company that spends big to market to communities of color and purports to stand with Black lives,” the letter said.
The letter, which will be officially submitted on Wednesday, also asked the CEO to meet employees and activists to inform them of his plans to address systemic racism in McDonald’s.
Protests are also being planned by McDonald’s employees, community members and activists.
When WBEZ approached McDonald’s for a comment, the organization provided a letter that the CEO had written to employees in response to the open letter.
In the letter, Mr Kempczinski said when he wrote the text messages he was thinking through the lens of a parent.
“But I have not walked in the shoes of Adam’s or Jaslyn’s family and so many others who are facing a very different reality. Not taking the time to think about this from their viewpoint was wrong, and lacked the empathy and compassion I feel for these families. This is a lesson that I will carry with me,” the letter stated.
The mayor’s office told WBEZ that parents and families do everything to protect children and victim shaming has no place in this conversation.