Sunday, April 15, 2018

Starbucks Apologizes After Two Black Men Arrested/Released With No Charges Filed

Six police officers arrest two men at a Philadelphia Starbucks
for asking to use the restroom

The arrest of two black men in a Philadelphia Starbucks has gained national attention as cellphone video footage has gone viral showing six officers handcuffing the men whose only crime seems to have been asking to use the bathroom while waiting for a friend.

According to reports a white female manager called the police.

A chagrined Starbucks CEO has now issued an apology to the men saying company training "led to a bad outcome."

From the Washington Post:

In a statement to Starbucks customers and employees Saturday, CEO Kevin Johnson acknowledged “a disheartening situation in one of our Philadelphia-area stores this past Thursday, that led to a reprehensible outcome.”

Cellphone videos captured the tense moment Thursday afternoon when at least six Philadelphia Police Department officers stood over two seated black men, asking them to leave. A man named Andrew Yaffe arrives to tell police that the two men were waiting for him. The officer says that they were not complying and were being arrested for trespassing.

Lauren Wimmer, the attorney for the two men, told The Washington Post that her clients told a Starbucks employee that they were waiting for Yaffe. Shortly after, a white female employee called the police, Wimmer said.

The two men, whom she declined to identify, were taken to a police station, fingerprinted and photographed. One officer suggested that they faced charges for “defiant trespassing,” Wimmer said. They were held for nearly nine hours before they were released, she said, after prosecutors said they would not pursue charges.

Benjamin Waxman, a spokesman for Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, said the office decided that there “wasn’t sufficient evidence to charge [the men] with a crime.”

In his statement, Johnson said the video was hard to watch and that he hopes to meet the two men to offer “a face-to-face” apology, adding that the company’s practices and training “led to a bad outcome — the basis for the call to the Philadelphia police department was wrong.”

“Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did,” Johnson said.

An official at Starbucks told the WaPo that there is no official company-wide policy on asking member of the public to leave. Apparently store managers are left to make such decisions.

Why this store manager decided to let this incident escalate to such a degree is not clear.

The official went on to say the handling of this matter was not how most store managers would have handled the situation.

As a white male, I've spent hours and hours in Starbucks all over the world. I've never been asked to leave.

From Kevin Johnson, CEO of Starbucks:

First, to once again express our deepest apologies to the two men who were arrested with a goal of doing whatever we can to make things right. Second, to let you know of our plans to investigate the pertinent facts and make any necessary changes to our practices that would help prevent such an occurrence from ever happening again. And third, to reassure you that Starbucks stands firmly against discrimination or racial profiling.

In the coming days, I will be joining our regional vice president, Camille Hymes—who is on the ground in Philadelphia—to speak with partners, customers and community leaders as well as law enforcement. Most importantly, I hope to meet personally with the two men who were arrested to offer a face-to-face apology.

We have immediately begun a thorough investigation of our practices. In addition to our own review, we will work with outside experts and community leaders to understand and adopt best practices. The video shot by customers is very hard to watch and the actions in it are not representative of our Starbucks Mission and Values.

Creating an environment that is both safe and welcoming for everyone is paramount for every store. Regretfully, our practices and training led to a bad outcome—the basis for the call to the Philadelphia police department was wrong. Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney issued a statement which read, in part:

“I am heartbroken to see Philadelphia in the headlines for an incident that — at least based on what we know at this point — appears to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018. For many, Starbucks is not just a place to buy a cup of coffee, but a place to meet up with friends or family members, or to get some work done. Like all retail establishments in our city, Starbucks should be a place where everyone is treated the same, no matter the color of their skin.

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