Youngstown, Ohio resident Denzel Skinner said he was fired from Taco Bell, his job of eight years, after he showed up to work with a Black Lives Matter face mask. In a lengthy video he posted on Facebook earlier this month, Skinner could be heard refusing to take off the mask after his supervisor instructed him to do so. Skinner insists, however, that there is no company policy that stipulates face masks can't have messages on them.
As he explained in the video, Skinner decided to wear the mask in support of the Black Lives Matter movement because the surgical masks the restaurant were sent were not appropriate for the warm temperature. With the air conditioning not functioning and the temperature in the Taco Bell location rising, he had difficulty breathing with the mask he was provided. After an argument with a manager, he was informed he would be fired if he walked out. Skinner said it's important to speak up about police brutality and systemic racism, so he decided to walk out.
"It's not that it's a problem with me," an off-camera person tells him in the clip that has since gone viral. "It's a company thing."
Skinner streamed the whole incident on Facebook Live, with a manager telling him not to come back after he sported the BLM mask.
In a statement, Taco Bell said it was "disappointed to learn about the incident" and would be working with the location to "understand what happened. "We believe Black Lives Matter," the company added, per USA Today.
The viral moment comes after a Publix employee in Florida quit when he was told he couldn't wear a surgical mask with "BLM" written on it, resulting in his decision to walk out on the job. Starbucks also landed in hot water after the company prohibited workers from wearing anything that endorses Black Lives Matter, although the decision has since been reversed.