Several show support for employee fired over 'Black Lives Matter' face mask
Several protesters took to the street Friday afternoon to show their support to a former Liberty Taco Bell employee, who says he was fired for wearing a "Black Lives Matter" face mask and then refusing to take it off.
About 30 people marched up Belmont Avenue from the Aldi parking lot to the Taco Bell.
"Definitely [the protest] is needed because attention needs to be brought in every aspect, not just police brutality, but something as simple as mishandling an employee in a company," said Organizer Onifade Carter.
The former employee, Denzel Skinner, wore the same mask he said he was fired for to the march. He said he wants everyone to be comfortable in their workplace and be able to stand up for what they believe is right.
"No hatred towards Taco Bell, none whatsoever, but once again, I just want justice. We need justice. All lives can't matter until black lives start mattering," said Skinner.
The Greater Warren-Youngstown Urban League is helping look into the situation. The President and CEO Thomas Conley said once they have the facts, they may seek some kind of reconciliation.
"We deal with employment discrimination cases, wrongful termination," explained Conley.
Others who came alongside for the march said they also want justice in the situation.
"That's just ridiculous to get fired over a face mask," said Nichole Dunmire of Girard.
After the incident, Taco Bell corporate released the following statement:
"We are working with our franchisee that operates this location to understand what happened. We are committed to fighting racial injustice and are hosting open forums to give restaurant teams an opportunity to discuss racism in America. Our priority is to be an inclusive brand while keeping our team members and customers safe."
Taco Bell corporate added that they introduced masks in the restaurants in April for the safety of team members and guests. Due to supply restrictions, they have allowed team members to bring in their own alternative facial coverings. As this is a fluid situation, they say they're in the process of considering the need to revise mask and uniform requirements to address recent concerns.
While the protest remained peaceful, several area businesses closed out of caution. Those included: Taco Bell, Wal-Mart, Aldi, Citi Trends and Dollar Tree.
Plaza Donuts delivered fresh donuts to the protesters while they organized nearby their business.