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Black While Eating: Black Truckers Racially Profiled and Denied Service at South Dakota Denny’s

Two truck drivers are telling their story of racism they experienced at a Denny’s in South Dakota.

Damon Whitfield and his driving partner, Hector Madera, say they were denied service at the gas station restaurant in Sioux Falls based on their race, KKTV reports. On Aug. 13, the two truckers stopped for a quick bite to eat and shower off Interstate 29. Whitfield says he was seated, given a menu and orange juice while he waited for Hector. He noticed while he waited his server never returned to take his order. “Then she walked away, and I didn’t hear from her. She was serving people that came in before us. People that came in after us,” Whitfield said. “She was cleaning up tables. She was just walking by us.”

Hector finally arrived and decided to try and get the server’s attention. When he alerted her that the pair was ready to order, she responded unexpectedly: “I don’t appreciate you yelling at me,” Hector says the server said. Whitfield defended his partner, saying, “He just said, excuse me. He didn’t yell.”

The employee then allegedly said, “I don’t need you people calling me over to this table.”

Things took a turn for the worse after the server yelled back, snatched the menus, and said she wouldn’t serve them and that if they didn’t leave, she would call the police. After Whitfield tried to get the attention of another server, they also asked them to leave. When the truck driver asked the server what they did wrong, she replied, “No idea.”

After the incident, both truckers reached out to Denny’s corporate offices but were ignored, according to Atlanta Black Star, until the video went viral on social media and reached company executives. “Denny’s has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to discrimination at all Denny’s locations,” a statement read on behalf of the restaurant by Kris Garvey Graves, managing partner FINN Partners.

“We embrace diversity and foster an inclusive environment where every guest feels welcome.”