CPI Security CEO apologizes after claims of racism, but Panthers sever relationship
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Charlotte Observer) - The founder and CEO of Charlotte-based CPI Security apologized Saturday for using what the leader of a local community group called “racist comments.”
Late Saturday, the Carolina Panthers announced the NFL team was cutting its ties with CPI.
“CPI has been a long-term partner but, upon reflection, we feel that it is right to end our agreement,” the Panthers said in a news media statement.
On Sunday, the Charlotte Hornets announced the NBA team also was severing its relationship with CPI.
“”Our chairman (Michael Jordan) has been very clear about his thoughts surrounding the issues of racial equality, social justice and diversity,” the Hornets said in a statement. “We believe it is appropriate at this time to end our partnership with CPI.”
The issue arose after Jorge Millares, leader of the Queen City Unity organization, said he sent out a mass email in which he called for action in response to killings of black people such as George Floyd by police.
On Facebook Friday, Millares said the reaction to his email was overwhelmingly positive, except from CPI Security’s Ken Gill.
“Please spend your time in a more productive way,” Gill told Millares in an email, which Millares put on Facebook. “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.”
“Have a great day, Ken Gill,” the CEO ended his email.
Millares posted on Facebook that, because of Gill’s “insensitive and racist comments,” Queen City Unity is calling for a boycott of CPI – #BoycottCPI. Queen City Unity is a nonprofit that says on its website that its mission is to drive equity and equality for all in Charlotte.
In a statement to Charlotte media, Gill apologized for his remarks, stating they “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 CMPD de-escalation training facility that will bring positive change to our community.
“I fully support the call for racial equality and justice in our community and our country,” Gill said. “We (at CPI) take a great deal of pride in our inclusive culture and in protecting the families and diverse communities we serve.
“I apologize my comments did not reflect those values.”
On Facebook, Millares called Gill’s initial response to his email “unacceptable, highlights his white privilege and his failure to acknowledge it.”
“Rather than acknowledge the harm caused by police brutality, excessive use of force, and social injustices, he deflects to black on black crime,” Millares posted on the Queen City Unity Facebook page.
“If you’re thinking of getting CPI, just know that when you place that yard sign in your front lawn you’re telling people of color ‘I Don’t Care About You,’” Millares said. “And for the sports teams such as the Carolina Panthers and Charlotte Hornets, we ask that you consider severing ties with CPI and Kenneth Gill.”
Millares could not be reached for comment Saturday.
Former Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers, a Wilson native who starred at UNC in basketball and football, tweeted Saturday: “If you’re a customer of @cpisecurity and have recently said you’re not tolerating racism any longer, here’s your chance to put those words into action.”
Representatives for the Hornets did not immediately respond to requests for comment Saturday. Longtime CPI Security pitchman and retired Panthers star Luke Kuechly, who has rejoined the team as a pro scout, could not be reached for comment.