Deineira Ford of Zion, Illinois, got more than she bargained for last week when she took her two young children to the local Dairy Queen drive-thru for a treat after a trip to their grandmother's house.
When she discovered part of her order was wrong, she asked owner James Crichton to correct the error. He refused, and when she asked for a refund, Crichton returned the money along with an additional response she never anticipated.
"He called me and my children n*****s; he said I can go back to where I came from," Ford told the Washington Post. "He took out his flip phone, and he said he would take a picture and put it on Facebook because he wants to show the world what kind of n*****s he has to deal with. Then he shut the window and walked away."
It was then that Ford's 3-year-old daughter piped up from the backseat, repeating the phrase Crichton had just called them. "She asked me: ‘Mommy, we n*****s?’” said Ford, who is biracial.
Unsure of what to do next, Ford called 911 and spoke to an officer who arrived on the scene to find her in tears. He wrote up a police report, which described Crichton as angry and unapologetic.
"Crichton boastfully told me he would be happy to go to jail over the issue and proudly admitted to calling Ford a n****. He added that he is ‘fed up with black people,’” the officer's report read. It also stated that Crichton spoke of a previous incident when two black customers, who he referred to as two of "them," squirted ketchup all over the floor of his restaurant.
“During the course of my conversation with Crichton, he used the word ‘n*****' freely to describe black people,” the officer wrote.
Calling the actions "deplorable," Zion Police Chief Steve Dumyahn told reporters that legally there was nothing they could do.
That was when Ford decided to take matters into her own hands. She contacted Dairy Queen headquarters, who responded that it was a privately owned franchise but that they would document her concerns and forwarded them to the restaurant's Operations Division for further investigation.
Ford also wrote about the experience on Facebook, encouraging her friends and family to share the experience. In less than 24 hours, her post had been shared by thousands. As buzz generated, the activist group Black Lives Matter planned a protest outside the restaurant over the weekend, but Dairy Queen acted so quickly that the protest turned into a celebration.
On Friday, Dairy Queen spokesman Dean Peters said in a statement that the franchise license was revoked, and an agreement was reached to terminate the location. Dairy Queen will not re-open the location unless it is under new ownership.
"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," read the statement. "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."
After initially accusing Ford of lying and telling reporters on Thursday that the situation was "blown out of proportion," Crichton released a statement apologizing.
"What I said was not appropriate and is something I cannot take back. I have no excuse. I can only ask for forgiveness and try to make it up to all involved," the statement read.
While Ford and her attorney say they are satisfied with the termination of the location and the apology, Ford said her daughter still brings up the incident, asking why that "mean man" said what he did.
"I [told her] some people are just mean. Some people don't have good hearts," she said.