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Local Handel’s Ice Cream closed after Facebook post by franchise owner comes to light

A local business is temporarily closed after a post by its franchise owner from 2015 came to light this week.

In 2015, Rick Jarrell, the franchise owner of Handel’s Ice Cream in the Kroger Shopping Center on Hwy 72 and Jeff Road, made a Facebook post about growing up in Birmingham in the 1950s. In it he used racial slurs, which has now caused a backlash from people who find his remarks very offensive.

He used racial slurs in explaining life in the 1950s and the prejudices that existed then. He was trying to say now he does not see race, stating he has friends of all genetic and ethnic backgrounds. However, his method and use of racial slurs in explaining his view has many upset.

The ice cream shop remained closed Tuesday while Jarrell’s post circulated widely through social media. Late in the day, Handel’s corporate office issued a statement saying they are suspending operations at the location and will determine the next steps. They say they do not tolerate expressions of racism or discrimination in any form.

Handel’s released a statement saying:

“We would like to apologize for recent social media posts that have come to our attention. These views do not represent our brand, our employees, vendors, or franchise partners, and we are troubled by the offensive tone that these messages conveyed. Handel’s Ice Cream has been serving generations for 75 years and we are proud of the relationships we have built in the communities that we serve. We are disappointed that we need to address this situation, but we will not ignore it nor condone it. Our mission continues to be one of exceeding expectations while serving the best ice cream on the planet.”

According to newspartner WAFF, employees at the Handel’s location shared a text message Jarrell sent early Tuesday letting them know the store was closed for the day.

“All I ask is that you read the entire post. It reflects life in Birmingham in the 1950’s and 1960’s. I was never raised to be a racist and that is what the post says. I have black nephews, black cousins, and my daughter’s boyfriend is black. This whole ordeal was started by a former employee (who was fired). Look at my actions. Look at my life. Read the entire post.”

“In an old Facebook post of mine, I used some inappropriate and hurtful language to describe African-Americans and other minorities. I sincerely apologize for my word choice. It wasn’t my intent to be insensitive, but looking back, I see that I was and for that I am deeply sorry.”

Jarrell was featured in The Madison Record’s weekly series spotlighting area veterans. He served in the U.S. Navy during Vietnam and then the U.S. Navy Reserve.

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