Published: Mon, April 16, 2018
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Philadelphia mayor orders review of Starbucks policies after arrest of black men

Philadelphia mayor orders review of Starbucks policies after arrest of black men

Videos captured on mobile phones, which show as many as six local police officers asking two black men seated at the store to exit, have gone viral on social media.

"It is important for me to say that, in short: These officers did absolutely nothing wrong". Attorney Lauren Wimmer, who represents the two men, told Action News her clients were innocently waiting for a third person to conduct a business meeting.

"What did they get called for, because there were two black guys sitting here to meet me", Yaffe says on the video.

The two men were taken to 901 N. 21st St., the Philadelphia Police Central Detectives headquarters and the Ninth Police Division, were they were booked for trespassing.

Starbucks released a statement Saturday where it apologized to the two men. He said they came in to use the restroom but were denied because they hadn't bought anything. But a spokesman for District Attorney Larry Krasner told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the men were released "because of lack of evidence" of a crime.

A second video from the Thursday incident posted on YouTube shows an extended version of what happened.

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The friend can be seen in video of the incident arguing with police, suggesting that the only reason the men were being asked to leave was because of the color of their skin. He said the chain will "train our partners to better know when police assistance is warranted". We are reviewing our policies and will continue to engage with the community and the police department to try to ensure these type of situations never happen in any of our stores.

In a statement, Kevin Johnson said the company would do "whatever we can to make things right" following a "disheartening situation that led to a reprehensible outcome".

Johnson, in his statement, said he hopes to personally apologize to the men who were arrested.

Starbucks also issued an apology for the two men via their official Twitter account.

If the men meant to make a purchase but were just waiting for their friend to order, then - at the least - it was rather inconsiderate for the Starbucks employees to make them wait to use the bathroom until a purchase had been made. The two black men who are ultimately arrested speak calmly to police.

"We take these matters seriously and clearly have more work to do when it comes to how we handle incidents in our stores.", the statement reads.

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He said a company-wide meeting will be held next week to discuss next steps and "underscore our long-standing commitment to treating one another with respect and dignity". The rally started outside Starbucks; protesters then went inside to confront the manager.

Meanwhile, a protest of the store at 18th and Spruce Streets is slated for noon Sunday, and more than 100 people have already signed up to attend a "Shut Down Starbucks!" protest there on Monday morning. There is an assumption that black men could never live such textured lives as to enter a space described jokingly as a white people's place. "That's what this is about", Khalif said. Thus, both the basis for the call and the actions of law enforcement could conceivably be called into question.

Starbucks has since tweeted an apology.

The mayor of Philadelphia, Jim Kenney, has since ordered the city's Commission on Human Relations to review Starbucks' policy.

Ross added, "As an African-American male, I am very aware of implicit bias".

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It made no further comment but repeated a previous statement that the allegation did not involve amounts that were material to the company.

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