McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski is facing severe backlash for sending a text message to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot with his concerns about the surge in violent crime and shootings that have become daily occurrences in the Windy City.
“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,” said Kempczinski, according to WBEZ Chicago, which obtained the text message through a Freedom of Information Act request.
While the message is on point, it sparked a severe backlash among progressives who accused the McDonald’s CEO of being a “racist” who did not understand the dire situation. Proponents of the “Defund the Police” movement across the United States blame police violence and systemic racism for the rise in crime in cities.
In late October, socialist Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar accused police in Minneapolis of failing to fulfil their oaths and blamed them for the rise in violent crime in her city of Minneapolis, Minnesota. As reported by Rebel News, the congresswoman failed to acknowledge her role in defunding the police budgets across police departments in the United States. As a cheerleader for the Defund the Police movement, Omar and other members of the so-called “Squad” have become vocal proponents of efforts to abolish law enforcement and prisons.
According to the New York Post, the McDonald’s CEO text was sent shortly after Mayor Lightfoot paid a visit to the company’s headquarters. The text message appeared to reference the deaths of seven-year-old Jaslyn Adams, who was shot and killed the day before in her father’s car outside a Chicago-area McDonalds, and teenager Adam Toledo, who was shot and killed by police the month before.
As Rebel News reported in April, the Toledo shooting prompted the Chicago mayor to propose that police officers be required to ask their supervisors for permission to chase criminal suspects on foot. “No one should die as the result of a foot chase,” she said at the time.
A spokesperson for Lightfoot condemned Kempczinski in a statement to the New York Post, and accused him of “victim-shaming.”
“As the Mayor has said previously, families do everything they can — moms, dads, grandparents — to love and support their children, and tragedies can still happen. Victim shaming has no place in this conversation,” said the Lightfoot spokesperson.
Social justice activists stoked outrage over Kempczinski’s remarks and announced plans to protest outside the McDonald’s headquarters on Wednesday. According to Insider, a group of 12 organizations, including Fight for $15, and the Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression plan to march outside the building and shared an open letter with Kempczinski to call him out for the “rotten, racist culture” he has fostered as McDonald’s CEO.
“It’s clear to us you’re the one who has failed here,” claims the open letter, which was reviewed by the publication. “Your text message was ignorant, racist and unacceptable coming from anyone, let alone the CEO of McDonald’s, a company that spends big money to market to communities of color and purports to stand with Black lives.”
For his part, Kempczinski acknowledged to his staff that his text message “was wrong.”
“In the text exchange, I thanked Mayor Lightfoot for the visit and reflected on our conversation about the recent tragedies, commenting that ‘the parents failed those kids,’” he wrote. “When I wrote this, I was thinking through my lens as a parent and reacted viscerally. 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,” he wrote. “This is a lesson that I will carry with me.”