McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski is in hot water after a thread of text messages he sent to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot leaked where he criticized the parents of two children who were killed.
According to WBEZ, Lightfoot held a meeting with Kempczinski at the McDonald’s headquarters on April 19 and spoke about the shootings of 7-year-old Jaslyn Adams and 13-year-old Adam Toledo.
Kempczinski said he thought the children’s parents “failed” them in a message he wrote to the mayor that day, “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.”
According to the Insider, Kempczinski responded to the release of his text messages and made a public statement.
In a letter, he said, “In the text exchange, I thanked Mayor Lightfoot for a visit and reflected on our conversation about the recent tragedies, commenting that ‘the parents failed those kids.’ 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. This is a lesson that I will carry with me,” Kempczinski added.
The day before the text messaged were leaked, Adams was shot and killed by a gunman while she sat in a car at a McDonald’s drive-thru on Chicago’s West Side, and Toledo was shot by a Chicago Police officer on March 29.
McDonald’s employee Adriana Sanchez said Kempczinski’s comments were completely unacceptable.
“He doesn’t know the circumstances of these parents,” Sanchez said. “A large number of them are single mothers who are just doing their best and sacrifice.”
Sanchez isn’t the only person sharing these sentiments. Several community groups are planning to join her in protest, including the Little Village Community Council, a group organized for justice in the killing of Toledo.
City employees also have joined in the activism against his comments and have planned to meet at the McDonald’s headquarters to present a letter to Kempczinski.
“It’s clear to us you’re the one who has failed here,” said the letter. “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.”