Leonard, who is about to enter his third season with the Colts, said in a video posted to his Instagram that he was “eating with three other black guys and a mixed woman” when a white person allegedly told workers that Leonard and his family were “verbally abusing him” and “talking trash to him.”
Leonard said he and his group were sitting away from most of the other restaurant patrons. He said the manager of Chipotle was being “very disrespectful” to him and threatened to call the police.
“That’s what being black in America is right now,” Leonard said in the video. “Us not even doing anything wrong, going out to eat with your family, just trying to spend a little bit of quality time. Can’t even enjoying eating anymore.”
“We’re talking about Black Lives Matter, for a guy to look at us and lie and laugh in our faces as we walk out, and the manager … basically kicked us out of Chipotle … that’s the white privilege we’re talking about. There’s no black guy who can sit there and eat peacefully without being racially profiled. We know if the manager would have called the cops right then and there, we know what would have went down.”
Leonard added, “We are tired of this.”
“We are tired of it. Y’all white people don’t understand what we go through. This is very frustrating. Very frustrating. Y’all don’t feel our damn pain,” he said.
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Chipotle’s Chairman CEO Brian Niccol told multiple outlets in a statement that the company was investigating the matter.
“We are currently investigating the incident involving Darius Leonard in Florence, South Carolina. 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,” Niccol said.
The Colts also expressed its support for the linebacker in a statement to the Indy Star.
“Darius’s experience demonstrates the struggle so many Black Americans and people of color face every day,” the team said in a statement. “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.”