Colts’ Darius Leonard Claims ‘Racial Profiling’ in Being Kicked Out of Chipotle
Phillip B. Wilson
Indianapolis Colts All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard vented in a Thursday Instagram post about being falsely accused of abusive behavior by a white patron and white manager at a Chipotle restaurant in Florence, S.C, where he and four others were reportedly told to leave or police would be summoned.
Leonard, 24, of Lake View, S.C., insisted his lunch party — “three other Black guys and a mixed woman’’ — did nothing wrong and associated the treatment with the social outcry about racism that has prompted worldwide protests. He said his group’s discussion of the Black Lives Matter movement prompted the white customer’s complaint.
In response to an indystar.com request, Chipotle said the manager has been suspended while the incident is investigated.
“That’s what being Black in America is right now,” Leonard said on Instagram. “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 enjoy eating anymore.
“Toward the end of our meal, the manager come up with a terrible attitude, asking us, ‘Do we have a problem?’ He’s saying that a white guy said we was verbally abusing him, talking trash to him.
“It was basically a lie. We basically got kicked out of the Chipotle because of that. They said that they wanted to call the police on us. That’s what being Black in America is right now.’’
Leonard also vented on Twitter.
Brian Niccol, Chipotle CEO and chairman, responded to indystar.com.
“We have a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind and we have suspended our manager while we conduct a thorough investigation,’’ he said. “I’ve personally reached out to Darius and I’m committed to ensuring the appropriate action is taken once the investigation concludes.’’
Leonard is the Colts’ defensive leader and considered an inspiration in his hometown of Lake View, where the 2018 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year was presented with a key to the city.
“We’re talking about Black Lives Matter, and for the guy to look at us and lie and laugh in our face as we walk out, and the manager . . . come up here and just basically kick us out of Chipotle,’’ he said. “And we felt like he was very disrespectful and that’s the white privilege that we are talking about. There’s no Black guy that 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 happened.’’
Leonard added: “That’s the (crap) that we were talking about. That’s exactly what we were talking about. … I’m telling you what I go through as a Black man in America. You all don’t understand what I go through, what another Black man goes through. You all see the police killing us. You all are seeing the injustices we go through. I live it, day in and day out. And I’m (bleeping) tired of it. Yes, I’m upset. I’m tired of it.”
(Phillip B. Wilson has covered the Indianapolis Colts for more than two decades and authored the 2013 book 100 Things Colts Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die. He’s on Twitter @pwilson24, on Facebook at @allcoltswithphilb and @100thingscoltsfans, and his email is email@example.com.)