Georgia sheriff's office employee fired after racist rant at McDonald's
A Georgia sheriff's office employee has been fired after he was caught on video telling a teenager to "shut the f*** up" and "speak English" at a local McDonald's.
Walter Browning, a jail maintenance mechanic for the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office, was fired Wednesday, WSAV-TV reported. The video, originally posted last Saturday, has already earned more than 2 million views.
In the footage, Browning is shown arguing with Cristina Riofrio, a 19-year-old student at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Riofrio, who was born in California to parents from Ecuador, was speaking Spanish to her friends when the confrontation began.
"I worked years — here — to be in this f***ing country," Browning says. "What'd you do? Come over on a f***ing boat?"
"Shut up! Shut the f*** up!" he goes on to say before telling Riofrio she needs to speak English inside the restaurant.
Riofrio, who posted the video with the caption "In America, I can speak f***ing Spanish if I want to," responds to Browning's comments by calling him a racist.
"I know I am,” Browning answers. "Speak English."
At the end of the video, an employee can be heard asking Browning to leave, but the footage does not show him exiting the restaurant. Riofrio told WSAV-TV she wishes she had said more during the confrontation.
"I wish I could have said a lot of things, but at that time I was really mad and I couldn’t even speak," the 19-year-old told the station.
She added that despite her anger, she wanted to remain strong for her friends, some of whom were rattled by the encounter.
"Actually one of my friends cried at that moment — I felt really bad for her," Riofrio told WSAV-TV. "But, I didn't want him to see us cry, see us as weak, acting weak, because we are not."
Thousands of Twitter users replied to the video, offering support for Riofrio and express their outrage.
"Spanish is beautiful, your heritage is beautiful, you & your friends & loved ones are beautiful. Stay strong, we're on your side," one user replied.
The Chatham County Sheriff's Office also condemned Browning's actions, saying in a statement that it has "no tolerance for this type of behavior and will not allow any person to knowingly be mistreated."