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Taco Bell apologizes after employee allegedly fired for wearing Black Lives Matter mask

Click to play video 'Taco Bell employee livestreams moments after getting fired for wearing Black Lives Matter mask' Taco Bell employee livestreams moments after getting fired for wearing Black Lives Matter mask
Denzel Skinner, after refusing to remove his Black Lives Matter mask while working at Taco Bell, posted a livestream on Facebook of him being confronted by his boss – Jun 18, 2020

Taco Bell is in hot water after a Facebook live video showed an employee allegedly being fired for wearing a Black Lives Matter face mask.

Denzel Skinner, wearing the mask, went live on his social media page on June 8, explaining to viewers that he was losing his job at a Taco Bell location in Youngstown, Ohio.

“This is crazy, all because I got a Black Lives Matter mask on, that I’m losing my job,” he can be heard saying in the video. “We can wear any type of masks.”

An unidentified voice in the video tells Skinner the mask had to be plain and that he “can’t bring politics into the building.”

READ MORE: Heartbreaking video shows Black child, 10, hiding from police car while in his own yard

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“Bro, I’m not bringing politics in,” Skinner responds. “This is what I’m standing for. How is this considered politics?”

Skinner had been a shift leader at the restaurant location for eight years, he told WKBN-TV, adding that the store’s air conditioning had broken, which meant the surgical masks provided to employees made it harder to breathe when it was too hot.

Taco Bell apologized for the incident in a statement to Business Insider, saying it was “disappointed to learn about the incident” and that “we believe Black Lives Matter.”

“Our Chief People Officer and Yum!’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer spoke with Denzel last week to apologize and discuss the situation,” a Taco Bell representative said in a statement. “Our goal is to ensure our policies are inclusive and keep our team members and customers safe.”

Click to play video 'Black protester who carried injured white man through angry crowd says he ‘did what we had to do’' Black protester who carried injured white man through angry crowd says he ‘did what we had to do’
Black protester who carried injured white man through angry crowd says he ‘did what we had to do’ – Jun 15, 2020

“While our policies at restaurants do not prohibit Team Members from wearing Black Lives Matter masks, we are working to clarify our mask policy so this doesn’t happen again.”

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A portion of Skinner’s video, which now has nearly two million views, was shared to Twitter by rapper Elijah Daniel. As a result, the hashtag #RIPTacoBell is now popular on Twitter.

“Fighting for Black lives is not a political issue,” one person tweeted, while another commented: “If Taco Bell is going to fire someone for supporting Black Lives Matter then I sure as hell am not going to spend a single dime at Taco Bell.”

Another wrote: “I guarantee that Taco Bell wouldn’t have fired someone who wore a ‘Make America Great Again’ mask.”

READ MORE: Retired judge throws punch at Black Lives Matter activist near defaced Columbus statue

Following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes, Taco Bell’s CEO Mark King released an open letter.

“I’m a white male,” King wrote, per Business Insider. “I grew up in the Midwest and now live in Southern California, where the Black population is a small percentage of the community. I will not pretend to understand the weight of the years of injustice and inequality that our Black friends and colleagues have experienced.”

The letter also said the company’s corporate office held a panel on combatting systemic racism.

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Taco Bell is just one more restaurant on a growing list of those changing their policy in regards to Black Lives Matter attire.

Last week, Starbucks reversed its own policy and is allowing employees to wear Black Lives Matter pins or T-shirts after it had previously banned them.

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca