June 2020 Statement
We believe Black Lives Matter and support the fight for equality and justice. Words are not enough to address the systemic racism that's woven into the fabric of our nation; only action leads to real change.
When we were alerted to the video showing appalling displays of intolerance in Naperville, we were deeply disturbed. To be clear, we have zero tolerance for racism. We began investigating immediately and were prepared to take whatever action necessary to ensure our staff's behavior remains aligned with that core conviction.
Our CEO, President, and other members of our leadership team met with the young women who were the targets of the hostility seen in the video. They also spoke with our team members who were onsite at the time of the incident. The outcome of our investigation is available in the addendum below; however, this is bigger than any one incident.
The larger national conversation has highlighted the need for all of us to take time to reflect and evaluate our own internalized biases, problematic behaviors, and the larger system of which we're a part and identify where we need to learn and grow. Toward that end, we are taking the following first steps:
- Our leadership will be holding a series of Town Halls with our employees of color so we can listen, learn, and then take action.
- We are hiring an expert on racial healing and justice to help train and guide us through this process.
- We're sharing resources and ways we can all take action to help be a part of that change:
Here is what we learned during our investigation into the Naperville incident:
- Earlier this week, a group of inspiring young women were across the street from our restaurant hanging paper heart signs of support for the Black Lives Matter movement and the protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd.
- A group of our managers and team members were there that day, June 2, handing out free pizza to people volunteering for cleanup efforts, and began to praise the young women for their Hearts for Peace initiative.
- Some individuals passing by began shouting and showing hostility toward the young women with the Hearts for Peace initiative.
- In the video, a man can be seen yelling at the young women. Also in the video, a dark-haired woman dressed in black, who has no association with our team, is seen getting out of the car and tearing down hearts.
- Many people online have conflated one of our managers with the dark-haired woman in the video seen getting out of her car to tear down the messages on the wall. That is not our manager.
- Our managers and team members were disgusted by the behavior of the people who stopped their vehicles to yell at these young women and maliciously tear down their work. In the video, several of our team members are seen and heard defending the young women to the man who is shouting.
- In our discussions, we learned that one of our managers, in her haste to help, believed that the person shouting had defaced the young women's work, and rushed to take it down.
- As the young women with the Hearts for Peace project confirmed to us directly, as well as in their statements to several media outlets and in a social media post, our manager quickly realized her mistake, felt terribly sorry, and apologized to the young women and began to console them.
- As can be seen and heard several times later in online videos circulating, our manager who made the mistake was standing with the young women in support of their efforts, while the shouting and intolerant behavior toward them continued.
On Wednesday in Naperville, we provided a home base for these young women to bring the community together to support the Hearts for Peace project, and we joined them in raising our voices to say unequivocally that Black Lives Matter. For context, here are some additional news reports about the incident and the event that took place the next day:
The senseless killing of Black people has to end now. We have been inspired by the young women with the Hearts for Peace project and all of the people around the nation working for change.
We will always stand with anyone who fights for equality and justice and are committed to doing our part.
We have deleted statements made prior to the investigation and have updated them with new updated information so that we don't cause any confusion.