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Video: College student wants to buy meal for homeless man, but Popeyes manager refuses to allow sale — and police are called on student

A Georgia State University student tried to buy a meal for a homeless man from an Atlanta Popeyes, but a manager at the fast-food restaurant refused to allow the sale — and police even were called on the student.

The GSU senior, Jo Ortega, recorded the incident on video and posted it last month on TikTok, where it’s been viewed over 5 million times, according to WAGA-TV.

What are the details?

Ortega told WAGA she was picking up a DoorDash order from the Popeyes near Ponce de Leon Avenue when she noticed a man who looked hungry.

Image source: WAGA-TV video screenshot

But when she tried to order him a meal, no dice.

According to Ortega’s video, she was in a vehicle in the drive-through lane when she asked for a manager — who eventually appeared and refused the transaction.

“No ma’am, you can’t do it,” the manager says.

“Why? He’s asking for food,” Ortega protests.

“Ma’am, you can’t do it,” the manager repeats before adding, “I don’t … care about you recording me, baby.”

And that was that.

But then it got even worse. Police were called on Ortega.

Image source: WAGA-TV video screenshot

“At that moment I was terrified,” she later revealed to WAGA. “I thought I was gonna get arrested. I was like, ‘Maybe I should just call my family, and I might not be coming home tonight.'”

Image source: WAGA-TV video screenshot

Atlanta police confirmed to the station that officers responded to a call about a woman refusing to leave the drive-through, but police didn’t do anything since Ortega didn’t break any laws.

Not only that, she told WAGA that officers complimented her.

“The officer pulled me to the side and was like, ‘I really thank you for doing that; thank you for buying him food. I appreciate that,’” Ortega noted to the station.

Common sense prevails

Ortega told WAGA that a store general manager soon was contacted, and he felt terrible about what happened and then let Ortega and the homeless man order anything they wanted that night for free.

“My name’s Jazz and thanks,” the homeless man was heard saying as he waved to the camera outside Ortega’s vehicle.

Popeyes told the station in a statement that it’s “committed to treating everyone with dignity and respect” and that it has “ensured all employees at this restaurant have been provided with retraining to help navigate a range of guest interactions, such as the situation highlighted in the video.”

Ortega told WAGA she started an online fundraiser to help Jazz find permanent housing: “Oftentimes the homeless are treated like stray animals, stray cats. ‘If you feed them, they’re gonna keep coming back, and we don’t want them to keep coming back.’ In all of this, I believe that people deserve to be treated like people.”