The Associated Press reports that McDonald’s President and CEO Chris Kempczinski is facing backlash after he issued a text message to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, alleging that two Black and Latino parents were involved in gun violence among children. was a mistake.
The texts, which were sent in April, refer to the murders of Jasleen Adams, 7, a black girl, and 13-year-old Adam Toledo, a Latino boy, who were shot at a McDonald’s drive-thru. by Chicago Police.
“With both, the parents failed the kids, which I know you can’t say anything about,” Kempczinski wrote to Lightfoot. “Even harder to fix.”
The exchange was made public on social media in late October as a result of activist Michael Kessler’s Freedom of Information Act request, the AP reported.
Several groups in Chicago have been opposing Kempzinski’s statement, calling it racist and insensitive. Jasleen Adams’s mother has demanded an apology. The AP reported that a coalition of community groups are protesting at the McDonald’s where Adams was murdered, calling for him to resign.
“This is a reprehensible message, and completely unacceptable for the CEO of a powerful multinational corporation – let alone a corporation that markets aggressively to communities of color and publicly declares that ‘Black lives matter. ‘—to spy,” U.S. Representative Bobby Rush of Illinois said in a statement Wednesday.
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.
Kessler, a US activist living in Canada, said he was looking into the Oregon police case and working with Chicago-based transparency group Lucy Parsons Lab when he found the text exchange.
The Community Coalition, which drew attention to other racial discrimination complaints faced by the company, called on the fast-food giant to create a $200 million fund over four years to improve life in Chicago, among other things. Groups included immigrant rights activists, labor groups and churches.
According to The Chicago Tribune, earlier this month, Kempczinski sent a note to McDonald’s corporate employees in the US, saying he was “thinking through his lens as a parent and viscerally were reacting”.
“But I didn’t walk in the shoes of Adam or Jasleen’s family and many others who are facing a very different reality,” he said. “From their perspective it was wrong not to take the time to think about it, and I lacked empathy and compassion for these families. It’s a lesson I’ll carry with me.”
McDonald’s declined to comment on Thursday.