DENVER -- First, a restaurant in New Mexico came under fire for it. Then, a marina in Maryland sparked similar outrage. Now, a Denver restaurant chain is dealing with claims of racism.
It's all over a controversial use of words some say belittles an important national movement.
Saturday night, a couple of buddies stopped by Illegal Pete's at 270 South Broadway for some dinner. But what they found inside when they got home made them sick to their stomachs--and it had nothing to do with the food.
This small square of aluminum foil creating some big hurts for friends Jovi Wansley and Connor Chainhalt.
"With everything going on in the world today, I don't think it's acceptable," says Wansley.
"This is my good friend. And to single him out like that, is not okay, because of skin color," says Chainhalt.
The two ordered the same burritos at Illegal Pete's last night.
But Wansley added black olives.
After they got home, they suddenly lost their appetite because of three words written on Wansley’s wrapper.
"My burrito, on the foil, it says 'Black Olives Matter,' in a mockery of Black Lives Matter," says Wansley.
He then called up the restaurant and spoke to the manager who apologized and said it was a joke.
But Wansley says the deadly shootings of black men by police nationally is hardly funny--and points to a larger issue of racism.
"I feel helpless. Because no matter what stance, no matter what you do, it seems it never stops. It's a never-ending story, a never-ending cycle," he says.
'Black Olives Matter' also sparking complaints in Albuquerque this summer when an Italian restaurant sold t-shirts with the controversial phrase.
And in Ocean City, Maryland, 'White Lives Matter' promoted marlin conservation.
"It's an ignorant statement. Like you just don’t do that. That's something you don’t do, especially with everything going on at this point," says Chainhalt.
The manager sent the employee home and he could face further discipline.
But the restaurant's owner, Pete Turner, says the worker is not racist--that he just did a stupid thing.
"I just want more people to be educated, be careful of what you mock, of what you say," says Wansley.
Turner says the employee wrote "Black Olives Matter" to distinguish it from the other burrito in the same order without olives.
He also says the employee did not know the customer was black. He works behind a wall in which you can’t see customers.
Now, the chain will address this issue with employees at all nine locations, emphasizing they must be more careful and sensitive.AlertMe