By Maggie Brown, WRAL multiplatform producer
Charlotte, N.C. — The Carolina Panthers announced they are ending their partnership with CPI home security after its CEO downplayed police brutality in an email sent to a Charlotte-based nonprofit. CPI has been a long-standing sponsor of the Panthers.
“Last Saturday, we said we are committed to doing our part and we mean it,” the team said in a statement Saturday night. “CPI has been a long-term partner but, upon reflection, we feel that it is right to end our relationship. We have informed Mr. Gill of our decision tonight.”
Luke Kuechly and star running back Christian McCaffrey have both been featured in CPI commercials in the past years.
Queen City Union, a nonprofit that is focused on equality, wrote a letter to local Charlotte local officials asking for police reform and stopping the use of tear gas.
CEO of CPI Ken Gill replied to the letter in an email, and said:
“Please spend your time in a more productive way,” he said in an email to the executive director of Queen City Union. “I challenge your statistics. 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.”
Executive Director Jorge Millares wrote a second letter on his website, telling people to #BoycottCPI
“Rather than acknowledge the harm caused by police brutality, excessive use of force, and social injustices, he deflects to black on black crime,” Millares wrote. “Ken Gill’s response is unacceptable, highlights his white privilege and his failure to acknowledge it. It also shows his refusal to acknowledge the struggles of black and brown communities and the countless murders of minorities at the hands of the police.”
Gill issued an apology after he made these comments:
“Regarding the email from me that was shared on social media, I want to apologize for my remarks which did not directly address the public’s outcry for racial justice and equality in the wake of George Floyd’s senseless killing.
“Let me say that CPI, and I personally, stand against racism and discrimination of any kind, and we are actively supporting solutions like the new Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department de-escalation training facility that will bring positive change to our community. In addition, I fully support the call for racial equality and justice in our community and our country.”
Queen City Unity said on Twitter that this apology “is not consistent with the actions and racist words of their CEO” and it was “crafted” by CPI Security’s public relations team.