'Unacceptable': McDonald's franchisee loses job over Aboriginal flag dispute

Nadine Carroll

A confrontation between an Indigenous artist and a couple attempting to pull down an Aboriginal flag has ended with a McDonald’s franchisee losing his job.

In the video filmed by Indigenous artist Robby Wirramanda, the man and woman question his heritage.

The footage shows a woman struggling to take down an Aboriginal flag on his property.

"Look at you trying to rip my flag off... it's too strong for you, Karen,” Wirramanda can be heard saying.

The woman, identified in multiple reports as Karen Ridge, eventually stops and says: “It’s a disgrace.”

“You’re a racist pig,” Wirramanda responds before the pair deny she’s a racist.

A video of a woman trying to take down an Aboriginal flag outside an Indigenous artist's house in Mildura (left) has gone viral. On the right is a man who is also featured in the video.
A woman tries to take down an Aboriginal flag outside an Indigenous artist's house in Mildura (left). On the right is a man who is also featured in the viral video. Source: @toostrongforkaren/Twitter

She then asks, “Which half of you is Aboriginal?”

“Which one per cent of you is Aboriginal?” the man, who was understood to be the franchisee of two McDonalds in Victoria named Robert Vigors, adds.

“You’ve got nothing in you that’s Aboriginal,” he continues in the one-minute, 36-second video.

“You claim to be Aboriginal? You make me laugh.”

Wirramanda responds the video he’s filming will go viral.

“Let it go viral because people like you make a mockery of true Aboriginals,” the man responds.

“I have a lot of good Aboriginal friends who live up in Far North Queensland and the Northern Territory [and] would love to see you and they would love to come and give you a lecture on what an Aboriginal is.”

The couple eventually leave the property as Wirramanda calmly wishes the couple a good night.

“Go and live in your f***ing humpty down the river,” the woman says before walking off.

The video was shared on Twitter by one of Wirramanda’s children with the handle @toostrong4karen and at the time of publication had been seen more than 320,000 times, with the hashtag, ‘Too Strong for Karen’, trending on Twitter.

According to @toostrong4karen, Wirramanda’s wife and their three sons under the age of 19 witnessed the incident.

On behalf of their parents, @toostrong4karen posted a response on Twitter from their mother stating “this is not the first time racism has reared its ugly head with these two” and thanked people for their support.

A McDonald's statement announcing the chain had taken over the operation of Mildura and Irymple restaurants and Robert Vigors has 'left the system'.
A statement from McDonald's about Robert Vigors. Source: Facebook/McDonalds Australia

McDonald’s removes franchisee

It is believed Mr Vigors was the franchisee of McDonald’s restaurants in Mildura and Irymple, and the fast food giant has since issued a statement about the incident on its official Facebook page.

“The comments made are unacceptable and do not reflect the beliefs of the company as an inclusive workplace for our employees and customers. The matter is currently under investigation,” a statement from McDonald’s sent to Yahoo News Australia read.

McDonalds also confirmed Mr Vigors “has left the system and is no longer involved” with the chain.

Victoria Police confirmed to Yahoo News Australia officers were called to a property on Dockside Drive at Mildura about 1am (local time) on Saturday.

Police spoke to all parties involved and initiated an investigation, which is ongoing.

Yahoo News Australia has contacted Mr Vigors and Ms Ridge for comment.

When contacted by the Herald Sun, Ms Ridge did not wish to respond to the incident.

"At the moment I genuinely fear for our lives, so [I] feel it’s better to say nothing,” she said.

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