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The Wall Street Journal: McDonald’s CEO apologizes for texts to Chicago mayor in which critics say he blamed shooting victims’ families

Chris Kempczinski, then president of McDonald’s USA, speaks in 2018 at the unveiling of the company’s new corporate headquarters in Chicago’s Fulton Market. The company had left the city for suburban Oak Brook in 1971.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

McDonald’s Corp. Chief Executive Chris Kempczinski is apologizing for a text about the shooting deaths of two Chicago children.

Kempczinski on Monday afternoon planned to address U.S. employees, some at the company’s
MCD,
-0.63%

Chicago headquarters and others virtually, regarding comments that “were wrong — plain and simple,” he wrote in an email to staff Friday.

“I am learning from this,” said Kempczinski in the message, viewed by the Wall Street Journal. “I believe that starts with more listening and learning from more people whose life experiences are different from my own.”

In an exchange with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot this past April, Kempczinski referenced the shooting deaths of two city children, 13-year-old Adam Toledo and 7-year-old Jaslyn Adams. Jaslyn Adams was in a McDonald’s drive-through at the time of the shooting.

“‘With both, the parents failed those kids which I know is something you can’t say. Even harder to fix.’”

— Text message from McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot

An increase in murders that began last year in U.S. cities, including Chicago, is carrying forward into 2021. It has been concentrated in poor neighborhoods, typically Black and Hispanic, with persistent histories of violence. Adam Toledo was shot by Chicago police in a largely Mexican neighborhood on the city’s West Side. Jaslyn Adams was shot by a gunman while sitting in a car with her dad in North Lawndale, a predominantly Black neighborhood also on the West Side.

An expanded version of this report appears at WSJ.com.

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