Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard said Thursday that he and his family were racially profiled at a Florence, S.C., Chipotle and later asked to leave the restaurant.
Leonard said toward the end of their meal he and his group were approached by the manager of the restaurant.
"He came up with a terrible attitude, asking us did we have a problem," Leonard said in a video posted to Instagram. "So, we're all lost, trying to figure out what's going on. He said that a White guy said we were verbally abusing him, talking trash to him. It was basically a lie. We basically got kicked out of Chipotle because of that. And they said they were going to call the police, or they wanted to call the police on us. That's what being Black in America is right now."
In a statement first reported by The Athletic, Chipotle chairman and CEO Brian Niccol said the incident currently is under investigation and the manager has been suspended.
"We are currently investigating the incident involving Darius Leonard in Florence, South Carolina," Niccol said. We have a zero tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind and we have suspended our manager while we conduct a thorough investigation. I've personally talked with Darius and I'm committed to ensuring the appropriate action is taken once the investigation concludes."
Leonard said Friday on ESPN's First Take that he still was in "complete shock" over the incident, and he wondered what would have happened if he was someone who did not have his platform as a professional athlete.
"That's something that I think about. That's why I said something," Leonard said. "I didn't say something for attention. I didn't say something to try to get money or anything. Me being a professional Black athlete, I was using my platform to show that no matter who you are in America things are still getting said, you're getting mistreated. And for me, I'm definitely trying to promote change. And if that's what I had to do to promote change with all of the backlash and everything I'm getting for stepping out and holding the manager and Chipotle accountable, then you know that's something I'm going to stand for, that's the heat I'm going to take."
Leonard said that he wants to see Chipotle "take a step forward and to change instead of just apologizing."
"Talking to the CEO last night and as I told him, 'You cannot just say that you're apologizing because you're apologizing because you had to,'" Leonard said. "I want you to do things that you do not have to do. I want you to give out a statement, do more diverse programs showing that you're doing a step forward into change, don't just do things for the public eye to say that we said this or we fired the manager. Just firing the manager is not going to do everything. What you need to do is go out and continue to show in a diverse community that that's not who we are. And that's what I want them to do. I want them to step up and take a step forward and to change instead of just apologizing."
The Colts released the following statement on the incident:
"Darius's experience demonstrates the struggle so many Black Americans and people of color face every day. It also demonstrates why we need serious action from our government leaders, law enforcement, businesses, and everyday Americans to end systemic racism and injustice and to continue this important dialogue on how to inspire positive change in our country."
Leonard, who will be in his third season with the Colts this fall, said in the video Thursday that the incident was "very disrespectful."
"We're talking about Black Lives Matter, and for the guy to look at us and lie and laugh in our face as we walk out, and the manager comes up and just basically kick us out of Chipotle, and we felt it was very disrespectful," Leonard said.
"That's the White privilege that we are talking about. There's no Black guy ... can sit there and eat peacefully without being racially profiled.
"And we know that if that manager would have called the cops right then and there, we know what would have went down," Leonard continued. "And it's wrong in America. And y'all wonder why all the protests and all that is going on right now. We are tired of this. We are tired of it. And y'all White people don't understand what we go through. This is very frustrating. Very frustrating. And y'all don't feel our damn pain. If y'all sit in our damn shoes for one day, and just walk outside and really feel what we go through, y'all would understand something. Some of y'all you need to understand that we're not just saying Black lives are the only thing that matter. What we're saying is we want to be treated equally. Just go sit down in public, just sit down and eat without being bothered. That's the (expletive) that we're talking about. Y'all got it made. We don't, and I'm tired of it."
Leonard made the Pro Bowl last season and was a first-team All-Pro in 2018 when he also won AP Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.