According to Fox 4 News, 47-year-old U.S. Army veteran Ernest Walker, along with his service dog, Barack, went into a Chili's restaurant on Veterans Day in Cedar Hill, Texas, which is near Dallas. Chili's was offering free meals for veterans, so Walker went to grab a burger.
KTVT reports that Walker was wearing a military uniform without a nametag that he had bought after retiring from the military.
In two separate Facebook posts that included the same video, Walker explained that he went to Chili's with his service dog because he's on Dialysis and the dog monitors his blood pressure. He said the meal was going well and that his waitress "was wonderful." However as he asked for a to-go box from his waitress, "a old white guy wearing a Trump flag shirt," whom Walker guesses was in his 70s, walked by him while going to the bathroom. When the man came back from the bathroom, Walker wrote in the post, the man asked him what unit he served in. After Walker said he was in the 25th infantry division, the man said he served in Germany during World War II and that "we did not see people like you over there" because they wouldn't allow blacks. Walker just listened to the man as the man pet Walker's dog and the waitress put his food into a to-go container.
At that point, according to Walker, a manager came over and said that a guest said he's not a real solider "because I had my hat on indoors." The manager asked to see his documents, and Walker showed his DD214, which is his military discharge paperwork, as well as his military ID. The manager also questioned Walker's service dog, who was wearing a red service vest and had his certified service tags, and Walker started filming at that point. In the video, the manager claims, "I'm so sorry. You didn't provide any documents to me." But Walker replied, "Yes I did just provide documents to you, and they saw you." In the video, you can see the manager take Walker's to-go box away from him—which, Walker wrote on Facebook, left him "grossly offended, embarrassed, [and] dehumanized."
In a statement to Fox 4 News, a Chili's spokesperson wrote, "Our goal is to make every guest feel special and, unfortunately, we fell short on a day where we serve free meals as a small token to honor our Veterans...We are taking this very seriously and the leaders in our company are actively involved with the goal of making it right." Chili's has also apologized multiple times on their Facebook page.
According to the Dallas Morning News, Walker was stationed in Hawaii in the 25th Infantry Division during the late 1980s. He thinks the election was a factor in the incident, saying, "I do believe that the election has changed the hearts and changed the motives of people so much so that he believed in his heart and mind after talking to the Trump supporter that I was stealing food."
In another Facebook post, Walker wrote of his military experience, "Served Proudly 25th Infantry Division Tropic Lightning I was only 16 and homeless I had ran away from home at 13 and slept in 23 different houses when a recruiter saw me sleeping behind a Kroger and I sign up and it SAVED MY LIFE!!!!!"
According to KTVT, Walker and his lawyer will meet with Brinker International, Chili's parent company based in Dallas, on Monday. His lawyer, Kim Cole, said, "I certainly hope that Brinker International takes a stand and makes it clear that they don’t condone that type of behavior in their establishment."