Restaurants

Dairy Queen closes Illinois restaurant after owner uses slur during argument with customer

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A Dairy Queen franchise owner in Zion, Ill. has lost at least one store location after police say he used racial slurs in an angry confrontation with a customer.

James “Jim” Crichton allegedly used the n-word following a disputre with 21-year-old Deianeira Ford and her children on Jan.4 over a food order that was allegedly incomplete. 

According to the police report, Ford went inside the store after a mixed-up food order was handed to her at the drive-thru. She says she first asked the owner to correct the order but when he refused she asked for a refund. Ford got her $5 back-- but it came with an earful.

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“He called me and my children n—–; he said I can go back to where I came from,” Ford recounted to The Washington Post.

“He took out his flip phone and he said he would take a picture and put it on Facebook because he wants to show the world what kind of n—— he has to deal with,” Ford continued. “Then he shut the window and walked away.”

Ford then called local authorities, who arrived on the scene and confronted Crichton about the incident.

According to the police report, the owner was angry when the officer arrived but did not deny Ford’s claims.

“During the course of my conversation with Crichton, he used the word 'n—–' freely to describe black people,” the officer wrote.

Zion Police Chief Steve Dumyahn labeled the activity “deplorable” but “not criminal" and was not able to press charges at the time.

"I'm disgusted and discouraged by the comments made by this business owner," Dumyahn said. "I reached out to Miss Ford to tell her that this does not represent the diverse community of Zion."

However, after posting a status on Facebook with the number and address of the location, Ford began spearheading a protest against the establishment. She called Dairy Queen’s corporate headquarters, too. The incident prompted protesters to gather outside the Dairy Queen on Saturday. Ford said she has an attorney and is now considering legal action. 

On Jan. 5 the company released a statement, in which they labeled the owner’s actions “inexcusable, reprehensible and unacceptable.”

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Last week, Crichton apologized in a statement provided by American Dairy Queen Corporation (Dairy Queen's parent organization) and said he would undergo sensitivity training.

"My actions were inexcusable and unacceptable," Crichton said. "I can only ask for forgiveness and try to make it up to all involved."

But by Friday, Dairy Queen announced that it was closing the location and was terminating Crichton’s franchise rights. A planned Saturday protest at Crichton's Dairy Qyeen involving local activists and Black Lives Matter demonstrators then reportedly turned into a celebration.

Ford’s attorney said legal action is still possible, especially if her team can prove Crichton has a history of racial abuse.

A representative for Dairy Queen was not immediately available.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.