Black military veteran denied Chili’s discount says that his address was published and he no longer felt safe at his home.
Ernest Walker, the Black military veteran who on Veteran’s Day was denied his free meal at Chili’s when his service was questioned, has had to move out of his home because of threats that he received since his contact information was published with the story.
The day after Veteran’s Day, Walker had posted to Facebook to tell the story of how his free meal was taken away after a customer questioned the uniform that he was wearing, The Grio reports.
— Pearl Dimmesdale (@OwossoKim) November 28, 2016
Daily News claims, the video sparked threatening messages to Walker from hidden phone numbers, and he faced even more vitriol on social media, Merritt said.
Brinker International, which owns Chili’s, said it takes Walker’s story “very seriously.”
The manager seen in Walker’s video has been removed from the job, according to the chain.
Walker and the company have been in talks to address the issue — and he hopes the ordeal could spark help for veterans in need of meals, his attorney told the newspaper.
As a result of the media frenzy, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban reportedly offered Walker two season tickets to a Mavericks game Wednesday and for the rest of the season, TMZ reported.
According to Star-Telegram, Lee Merritt, Walker’s attorney, said that since his client’s home address was inadvertently publicised by a news outlet, he has been threatened over the telephone and has received a suspicious package at his house.
“He, his wife and his dog have had to move out around the 13th and they’ve been out ever since,” Merritt said. “Veterans Day was on Nov. 11.”
Merritt said Walker is not hurting for a meal, however, and is exploring ways he can help veterans who are needy using the donations that have come his way since his story became public. Walker has also established a gofundme page to further that effort, Merritt said. The page has raised more than $6,000 as of 7 p.m. on Nov. 22.
The Dallas-based Chili’s restaurant chain has since apologised for the incident.
Merritt said he has not had an opportunity to pass along the threats to authorities. Some of the threats Walker has reviewed involve messages saying that they know where Walker lives and they have looked up the social media profiles for Walker’s adult children.
“Many of the threats [Walker] has reviewed seem to come from ex-military who have chosen to believe that Mr. Walker has stolen valor,” Merritt said. “But also, there are veterans who have come to Mr. Walker’s aid, of other races. There was this one man, he wants to set up a dinner with fellow veterans and that’s been great. Mr. Walker has been constantly trying to overcome the naysayers and is establishing this effort to try and help some of his fellow veterans.”
“We’ve received phone calls, and it’s always a restricted line,” Walker explained. “People are saying, ‘Hey, we know where you live.’”
The threats that Walker and his family have been receiving have reportedly been arriving through phone calls, mail and online, The Root notes.
After a Dallas media agency published his address, Walker and his wife decided to move out of their home.
Veteran mistreated by restaurant mgr now getting mistreated by strangers? Why someone threatened to kill Ernest Walker’s service dog at 6pm pic.twitter.com/B0y8N4TVkr
— Homa Bash (@HomaBashNBC5) November 23, 2016
“We had to protect ourselves,” Walker said. “So we had to leave. We had to take our dog away from the house because there was threats against our dog.”
Walker and his supporters are set to host a free luncheon for vets next month.
“This country right now is wounded,” said Walker. “There needs to be a healing process. For the people that reached out to me from all different colors, races, creeds and religions, that let me know there is hope for this country.”
Unfortunately even being a military veteran and putting life at stake for the sake of the country doesn’t protect a Black person from racial bias as racism seems to be stronger than any other tradition in America. There seems to be no other way for people like Ernest Walker than to arm themselves and protect their families and their honorable status.