On December 16, nine New York police officers walked into a Brooklyn branch of the Mexican food chain Chipotle. Reportedly, several employees raised their hands in a “don’t shoot” pose — which in recent months has become a gesture of protest linked to the police shooting death of Michael Brown — and refused to serve the officers.
According to the food blog Eater, Chipotle quickly posted an apology on its Facebook page, saying that it was only one employee, and that the officers were served. Eater quotes that statement, which has since been taken down:
“We work hard to be sure that all of our customers feel welcome in our restaurants and apologize if the actions of any of our employees suggested otherwise... We investigated and have taken appropriate measures to be sure this doesn't happen again.”
Today, Chipotle released an official statement, repeating that only one employee made the gesture, and that an internal review discovered that the officers left of their own accord while still in line waiting to be served. The document, which was not posted on Facebook but is downloadable as a PDF here, states in part that:
“We work very hard to ensure that every customer in our restaurants feels welcome and is treated with respect. Clearly, the actions of this crew member undermined that effort. In no way was the behavior of this crew member consistent with our culture and our values as a company. We have taken appropriate actions with regard to the crew member involved, but we are not at liberty to discuss the specific actions taken.”
It goes on to add:
“We have also apologized to many of the people who have contacted us regarding this issue. Above all, we would like to apologize to the officers involved in this incident.”
Response has been mixed. One Facebook commenter wrote: “Not only do they serve delicious burritos, their employees don't like cops. Tasty food + non-acceptance of bullies = 100% awesome.”
Another had the opposite reaction, saying: “I will NEVER eat at another Chipotle again. I think it's absolutely wrong to treat officers of the law like this. If someone comes into their place and robs them, who they gonna call? The Police? Treat others as you want to be treated. People don't realize that a handful of bad police officers don't mean they're all bad. This incident looks bad for this chain of fast food restaurants.”
It kind of looks like everyone’s mad at Chipotle — it's definitely not about the food anymore.