FACT CHECK: Did Chick-Fil-A Issue ‘Back The Blue’ Shirts In Response To Recent Protests Against Police Brutality?
An image shared on Facebook more than 15,000 times purportedly shows Chick-fil-A employees wearing “Back the Blue” shirts the company distributed to support the police amid recent protests against police brutality.
The photo, taken in 2015, has been taken out of context. The shirts have not been distributed to Chick-fil-A employees across the country in response to recent protests.
Social media users shared the photo amid nationwide protests against racial injustice and police brutality after George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died on May 25 in Minneapolis police custody. Such posts claim that Chick-fil-A distributed to employees in response to recent Black Lives Matter protests shirts with the phrase “Back the Blue.”
“Chick-fil-A issued ‘Back The Blue’ t-shirts to its employees to help bring support to our law enforcement officers,” the text accompanying the image reads. “Chick-fil-A said they wanted to show support for #PoliceLivesMatter because they are serving us on the streets every day and that a lot of negative derogatory rhetoric has come their way over the past few months.”
But the photo of the shirts has been taken out of context. They were made and worn in 2015 by employees at “one locally owned-and-operated Chick-fil-A restaurant” in Conroe, Texas, according to Reuters. A spokesperson from Jackson Spalding, Chick-fil-A’s public relations firm, confirmed to the Daily Caller that the shirts have nothing to do with recent protests.
In November 2015, law enforcement website PoliceOne cited a quote from Eli Advincula, the restaurant manager at the time, that said the shirts were meant to support local law enforcement, as well as a high school football team. The PoliceOne article includes the same image as the Facebook post.
“We’re supporting those everyday heroes that protect us,” Advincula was quoted as saying. “There are [police officer] regulars that eat here all the time, and we just want them to know that.” (RELATED: Fake Chick-Fil-A Giveaway Spreads Like Wildfire On Facebook)
The photo previously circulated along with the claim that the shirts were issued in response to Dallas protests in 2016. Snopes debunked that claim and, in the process, got a comment from a Chick-fil-A representative that clarified the manager’s remark.
“During high school football season last year, one locally owned restaurant in Houston, Texas created t-shirts for the sole reason of supporting its local football team,” the representative told Snopes. “However, when asked, the local manager also made a statement in support of the local first responders, as we have a history of honoring them for their public service.”
Chick-fil-A released a statement on June 3 regarding recent protests, saying, “Racism should have no place in society. Not now, not ever. It cannot be tolerated.”