Illinois Dairy Queen Owner Loses Franchise Agreement After Racist Tirade Against Biracial Customer

Deianeira Ford, 21, left, of Tinley Park, poses Friday, Jan. 6, 2017 with Meisha Martin, of Zion, in Martin's car. Martin is the grandmother of Ford's children. Ford says the owner of a Dairy Queen business in Zion insulted her with racial slurs. (Chris Walker / Chicago Tribune)
Deianeira Ford, 21, left, of Tinley Park, poses Friday, Jan. 6, 2017 with Meisha Martin, of Zion, in Martin’s car. Martin is the grandmother of Ford’s children. Ford says the owner of a Dairy Queen business in Zion insulted her with racial slurs. (Chris Walker / Chicago Tribune)

Dairy Queen has ended its corporate franchise agreement with a Zion store owner amid fallout from a racially charged dispute over an order that sparked calls for a boycott of the fast-food restaurant chain known for its Blizzard frozen desserts.

On Friday, the terms of the franchise agreement termination were agreed to and are effective immediately, said Dairy Queen spokesman Dean Peters. The restaurant will remain closed and will not reopen as a Dairy Queen unless ownership changes at that location, Peters said.

“The recent actions of this franchisee are inexcusable, reprehensible, unacceptable and do not represent the values of the Dairy Queen family, our employees, fans and other independent franchises around the world,” the corporate statement said. “We expect our franchisees and their employees to treat every single person who walks through their doors with the utmost dignity and respect. Nothing less is acceptable.”

The Dairy Queen on 21st Street in Zion was closed on Friday, the day after an allegation that the owner used racial slurs against a biracial customer spread on social media. The owner issued an apology for the incident on Friday. (Frank Abderholden / Lake County News-Sun)
The Dairy Queen on 21st Street in Zion was closed on Friday, the day after an allegation that the owner used racial slurs against a biracial customer spread on social media. The owner issued an apology for the incident on Friday. (Frank Abderholden / Lake County News-Sun)

Dairy Queen’s announcement came just hours after store owner James Crichton of Lake Villa, who is white, apologized and asked for forgiveness after an incident in which he was accused of hurling racial slurs at a biracial woman in front of her young children after she complained about her order.

“I take full responsibility of my actions,” Crichton said in a statement Peters released earlier Friday. “As the owner of this restaurant, I should be a model for others. My actions were inexcusable and unacceptable.”

Crichton did not immediately return calls seeking comment Friday night after Dairy Queen’s announcement to terminate the franchise agreement.

Zion mayor Al Hill, left, talks with Deianeira Ford, 21, from Tinley Park, in front of the Dairy Queen on Sheridan Rd. on Jan. 7, 2017, in Zion, Ill. The Dairy Queen store owner lost his franchise after using racial slurs against Ford earlier in the week. (John Konstantaras / for the Chicago Tribune)
Zion mayor Al Hill, left, talks with Deianeira Ford, 21, from Tinley Park, in front of the Dairy Queen on Sheridan Rd. on Jan. 7, 2017, in Zion, Ill. The Dairy Queen store owner lost his franchise after using racial slurs against Ford earlier in the week. (John Konstantaras / for the Chicago Tribune)

Clyde McLemore, head of the Lake County Black Lives Matter, said his group turned plans to hold a protest outside the store Saturday into a “celebration” of its closure.

“This satisfies Black Lives Matter,” McLemore said.

Deianeira Ford, 21, of Tinley Park, said the incident happened Wednesday after the store on 21st Street west of Sheridan Road in Zion mishandled her order and she asked for a refund.

On Facebook, Ford wrote that at one point her daughter asked what the racial slur meant. Her post also said that when she asked the owner his name, he first said it was “‘Bill Clinton’ and then said, ‘Better yet, I’m Donald Trump,’ and told me to go back where I came from.”

Deianeira Ford, 21, of Tinley Park, is greeted by Zion police Chief Steve Dumyahn on Jan. 6, 2017, at the city's police station, where Ford went to thank him for his department's support.  Ford says the owner of a Dairy Queen business in Zion insulted her with racial slurs after she questioned an order. (Chris Walker / Chicago Tribune)
Deianeira Ford, 21, of Tinley Park, is greeted by Zion police Chief Steve Dumyahn on Jan. 6, 2017, at the city’s police station, where Ford went to thank him for his department’s support. Ford says the owner of a Dairy Queen business in Zion insulted her with racial slurs after she questioned an order. (Chris Walker / Chicago Tribune)

Her story was subsequently backed in a report filed by a Zion police officer who responded to a 911 call from Ford. In that report released Thursday, the officer wrote that the store owner “proudly admitted” to using a racial slur, but the restaurant owner later denied saying anything racial when the same officer returned later the same day in response to a separate call.

Ford, who recently worked as a dispatcher at the south suburban Harvey police department and is a full-time college student, said the racial slurs hurled at her and her children were hurtful. Ford said she and her children are relocating to Zion.

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SOURCE: Chicago Tribune, Frank S. Abderholden