As a sign of protest for an alleged racial slur said to a Dairy Queen employee, demonstrators strew the contents of a case of Del Monte bananas along the sidewalk in front of the Statesboro restaurant on Northside Drive at midday Monday.
Standing among the bananas, demonstrators, a number of whom were from the Poor and Minority Justice Association and a local church, held signs and chanted slogans such as “We are not monkeys!” and “Justice for Dorian!” through the early afternoon.
At first there were six protestors. Within the hour there were 11 visible. Around 2:30 p.m., the reporter counted 14 people.
Marcia Saunders said that her son Dorian Mosley, 16, worked at the Dairy Queen for about six months and that one week ago he told her that a “manager” there had called him a monkey four times.
“I don’t know why she would do this, because he goes with a white girl, I guess,” Saunders said. “I really don’t know why.”
‘No longer employed’
By nightfall Monday, International Dairy Queen’s corporate communications office had issued a statement on behalf of the Statesboro franchise owners, Hugh and Jeanne Anne Marsh. Referring to the person who reportedly made the remarks about Mosley as a shift leader, the franchise owners stated that, as of last Wednesday, that person is no longer employed by the restaurant. In the statement, the franchise owners also apologized that the incident occurred and said they do not tolerate racism, discrimination or harassment.
Both Saunders and the protest’s leader, Poor and Minority Justice Association Georgia and Florida area President Eli Porter, who is also pastor of Redeeming Love Church of God the Bibleway, referred to the shift leader by first name. But they said they did not know her last name. So the Statesboro Herald is not using the first name, either.
The franchise owners and Dairy Queen corporate did not name the individual at all.
Saunders said she had never seen the “manager” in question. Mosley, who is attending Portal High School by the virtual option, was not among the protestors. His mother said she had not allowed him to return to work there after what he told her.
At that point, the protesters were calling for a boycott of Dairy Queen and demanding that the shift leader be fired and that the company issue a public apology. Both Saunders and Porter said they had talked to one of the franchise owners, Hugh Marsh about the reported “monkey” name-calling.
“He told me she didn’t mean to, and he said she probably was playing, and I’m like, you don’t play like that, and he said, ‘What you want me to do, fire her?’” Saunders said.
Porter said he had talked to Marsh last week and told him he would initiate a protest but had given him five days to fire the shift leader and to let Porter know what had happened.
Marsh spoke to the reporter a little later inside the restaurant.
“This is a personnel matter,” Marsh said. “This company doesn’t give out any kind of personnel information, and also this company does not condone any kind of disrespect to another employee or amongst employees and that’s basically all I’ve got to say. We don’t condone that. We don’t put up with it, and so the matter’s been solved. They say otherwise.”
Phoned around 3:30 p.m., Porter said that he and the demonstrators had just left the scene but that about 24 had eventually turned out. Asked if they would take any further action, he said they were waiting to see whether the manager returns to work and also still wanted an apology.
Amie Hoffner, corporate communications director for International Dairy Queen, called the Statesboro Herald to say that she was emailing a statement on behalf of Hugh and Jeanne Anne Marsh, owners of the Dairy Queen franchise. It arrived about 5:30 p.m. Hoffner noted that all of the local restaurant’s employees are employed by the franchise owners and not by Dairy Queen International.
“As the franchise owners of the Dairy Queen restaurant in Statesboro, Georgia, we can assure you that there is no place for racism, discrimination or harassment in our restaurant,” the Marshes said in the statement. “We take matters like this very seriously and, when we learned on December 7 of the very troubling and discriminatory remarks made by a shift leader about another employee, we immediately conducted and completed an internal investigation. As of December 9, the shift leader is no longer employed at our restaurant.
“Racism, discrimination or harassment are not tolerated at our Dairy Queen restaurant and we are sorry this incident occurred,” they concluded. “We will continue to be a champion for respect, equality, diversity and inclusion for our employees and our fans.”