This past Veteran’s Day, the story of Black veteran Ernest Walker, 47, of Cedar Hill, Texas went viral. Walker went to a local Chili’s restaurant in his uniform, accompanied by his service dog Barack for the annual free meal provided to vets by the restaurant. But an elderly White man wearing a Trump t-shirt questioned Walker’s service to his country because Walker was wearing his service cap indoors. In an exchange with Walker, the man asked if he was in the 24th Infantry Unit. Walker responded “No, 25th,” to which the White man stated, “They didn’t let you Blacks over in World War II.”
The man then went to the manager who then approached Walker and began questioning his service. Despite showing his discharge papers and service dog certification to the manager identified as Wesley Patrick, Walker was denied service and his meal taken from his table. The encounter was captured on video and uploaded to Facebook where it soon went viral. The restaurant eventually apologized to Walker and placed the manager on suspension for his actions. But Walker’s story soon brought unwanted harassment and death threats.
According to Walker he and his wife Debbie were forced to leave their home after someone posted his address, social security number and names of his children online. He soon began receiving calls from blocked numbers filled with racist vitriol and accusations that he was engaging in ‘stolen valor’. Walker stated to media ” We don’t feel safe in our home. We’ve been living there for 18 years and now that our address has just been posted [online] permanently, we are now feeling like we are going to sell our property because we’ll never feel safe there.”
According to his lawyer Lee Merritt, many of the threats “seem to come from ex-military who have chosen to believe that Mr. Walker has stolen valor”. Merritt stated that Walker’s address was initially leaked by a news outlet, but did not say which one. There are people out there who have hatred and there is nothing you can do to change it, it’s a poison in their system.”