Starbucks CEO apologizes as protests spark after video of two black men getting arrested at Philly outlet goes viral
The men were reportedly barred from using a restroom in Starbucks by the employees and were told that only customers could use the facility, according to reports.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Starbucks, Kevin Johnson, issued an apology on Sunday after a video of two black men getting arrested at one of the coffee chain's Philadelphia outlet went viral last week. A Starbucks employee reportedly called authorities after seeing the men sitting in the shop for a while.
The video, which was posted on Twitter by Philadelphia resident Melissa DePino, showed two black men being escorted out of the coffee shop in handcuffs. Customers, in the clip, can be heard telling the officers that the men did not do anything wrong.
DePino, in her tweet, wrote: "The police were called because these men hadn't ordered anything. They were waiting for a friend to show up, who did as they were taken out in handcuffs for doing nothing."
Johnson released an apology message on the company's website late on Saturday, and called the incident "reprehensible."
"I’m writing this evening to convey three things: 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."
The incident sparked protests outside the Center City store as several Black Lives Matter (BLM) activists began gathering by the entrance to the 18th and Spruce streets location on late Sunday morning, reports state.
Many of them held signs, saying: "Too little, too latte" and "Shame on you Starbucks #BLM."
BLM's Asa Khalif, who was protesting outside the Starbucks outlet, said: "Black and brown people deserve to have a safe space without being profiled. Shoutout to the white allies who stood up and saw injustice and fought against it challenging the police. That's what this is about," according to WPVI-TV.
Philadelphia Mayor, Jim Kenney, also condemned the incident and said that an apology from Starbucks "is not enough." Kenney said that he has asked "the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations to examine the firm's policies and procedures, including the extent of, or need for, implicit bias training for its employees."
The Mayor added that he is "heartbroken to see Philadelphia in the headlines for an incident like that," which he says "appears to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018."
Reports state that the men in the Philly Starbucks store wished to use the restroom but the employees told them that the facility was only available for the customers and asked them to leave. When the men refused to go, the employees reportedly called police complaining that two men were trespassing, according to reports.
Starbucks CEO said: "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 added that a company-wide meeting will be held this week to share what they have learned from the incident and to discuss the next steps and "underscore our long-standing commitment to treating one another with respect and dignity."