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Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Hornets Cut Ties With CPI Security After Racist Remarks By CEO

Jesse Steinmetz
Protesters march through Charlotte June 6 for the ninth night in a row to demand an end to systemic racism and police brutality.

The Carolina Panthers announced Saturday night they were ending their business relationship with Charlotte-based CPI Security after the company's CEO made racist comments in an email. On Sunday, the Charlotte Hornets followed suit -- and so did the minor league Charlotte Knights baseball team.

In the statement, the Panthers said that they were committed to doing their part to end racial injustice and that the team felt it was right to end their relationship with the company. 

Earlier this week in response to the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and other acts of police violence against African Americans, Jorge Millares, executive director of Queen City Unity, sent an open letter to Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles, the City Council and Marcus Jones, Charlotte city manager, calling for police reform. 

Ken Gill, president and CEO of CPI Security, replied in an email to Millares saying, "A better use of time, would be to focus on the black on black crime and senseless killing of our young men by other young men."

Millares made this email exchange public and called for a boycott of CPI Security

On May 30, the Carolina Panthers issued a statement saying in part, "We must work together and take meaningful, sustained action to find solutions and enact change that is so desperately needed to end racial and social injustice. We are committed to doing our part."

Gill apologized late Saturday, posting a statement on CPI's social media.

"I have listened to the feedback, and now more than ever realize the need for continued dialogue to help end racism within our community," he wrote. 

But on Sunday afternoon, the Charlotte Hornets also announced they were dropping CPI. 

Then, so did Charlotte's minor league baseball team, the Knights. 

"To me it really shows the progress that we're starting to make," Millares said Monday of the response from major organizations after he made the exchange with Gill public. "Now, don't get me wrong: 10 days of protest aren't going to solve all this. It's going to take a whole lot more pressure to make it happen, but it's very encouraging to see the reaction and how quick it was."

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Dash joined WFAE as a digital editor for news and engagement in 2019. Before that, he was a reporter for the Savannah Morning News in Georgia, where he covered public safety and the military, among other topics. He also covered county government in Gaston County, North Carolina, for its local newspaper, the Gazette.