NORTH LAWNDALE – Fast food workers and local families gathered at West Side McDonald’s where 7-year-old Jaslyn Adams was shot and killed in April to demand the company sack its top executive.
McDonald’s was criticized when a text sent by CEO Chris Kempczinski to Mayor Lori Lightfoot implied that the deaths of Jaslyn Adams and 13-year-old Adam Toledo were the fault of bad parenting. Organizers call on McDonald’s to replace Kempczinski and improve conditions for workers at the company.
“The CEO of the company,” he said in a racist comment. It is for himself and his company. He’s not there for the workers and the kids, ”said Kintrell Hughes, a resident of Lawndale.
It was inappropriate for the CEO to blame the family that has been abused, rather than the social conditions like divestment and poverty that are at the root of crime in the region, Hughes said.
The messages were particularly harmful since McDonald’s heavily markets blacks and Latinos and takes advantage of communities where there are countless loyal customers, Hughes said. The debacle reveals a lack of understanding of the circumstances surrounding the violence on the West Side and a deep disconnect between McDonald’s executives and the communities where they do business, protesters said.
Organizers are calling for a minimum wage of $ 15 for all employees nationwide, a $ 200 million fund to support Chicago communities and for the creation of a committee dedicated to improving working conditions for workers. McDonald’s employees.
The inflammatory texts were sent after Kempczinski met with the mayor at the company’s headquarters in April, and the messages were recently released thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request.
“With both, parents failed with these kids, which I know is something you can’t say. Even more difficult to repair, ”Kempczinski said in the text to the mayor.
Adams was killed while taking a Happy Meal with her father at the drive-thru. Police suspected the shooting may have been gang related.
Toledo was killed by a Chicago police officer in March after a foot chase. Initially holding a gun, Toledo dropped the gun and raised his hands before the officer shot him, video of the chase showed.
Kempczinski has since apologized for the statements. But community groups such as the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, the Movement for Black Lives, the Little Village Community Council and St. Agatha Catholic Church say an apology is not enough.
“We come together to raise our voices and those of our community to challenge those in power at McDonald’s to open their minds and hearts to truly view their employees with the same or even better consideration than their profits,” said said Reverend Larry Dowling, pastor at St. Agatha’s Church.
The McDonald’s top executive’s statement is just one symptom of deeper issues of racial injustice within the company, protesters said. McDonald’s has been sued several times in recent years by black employees, franchise owners and members of the company’s management team for racial discrimination.
These issues, which include low wages, unsafe working conditions and racial discrimination against cooks and cashiers, cannot be addressed with a CEO at the helm who perpetuates racist tropes, protesters said.
“It’s clear to us that Chris Kempczinski can’t fix McDonald’s race issues because Chris Kempczinski himself is part of the problem,” the community groups wrote in a statement.
Kempczinski is unable to criticize troubled parents for the violence they face because “he can’t relate to because he’s rich and we are not,” said Adriana Sanchez, employee from McDonald’s.
Companies like McDonald’s that pay low wages make it difficult for parents to protect their children because they have to work long hours just to make ends meet, Sanchez said.
“As parents, we have to work twice and sometimes leave our children alone or in the care of other people. With a salary like this, it’s not enough to support our families, ”Sanchez said.
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