The CEO of Starbucks said he wanted to meet personally and “offer a face-to-face apology” to the two black men arrested at a Philadelphia store Thursday, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Sunday.
In a statement posted late Saturday, CEO Kevin Johnson called the actions at the Philadelphia Starbucks a “reprehensible outcome.”
“The video shot by customers is very hard to watch and the actions in it are not representative of our Starbucks mission and values,” Johnson wrote in the statement.
A protest of the store at 18th and Spruce streets in Philadelphia took place early Sunday afternoon with more than 100 people outside the store. A “Shut Down Starbucks!”protest was scheduled at the venue Monday morning, the Inquirer reported.
The arrest of the two black men sparked outrage on social media and led to a police investigation after a video of the incident went viral.
A video posted Thursday by Melissa DePino on YouTube shows police talking to the men for several minutes. Officers then handcuffed the men and escorted them out of the store.
DePino said that "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."
In a video posted to Facebook on Saturday, police Commissioner Richard Ross confirmed DePino’s observation and said officers responded to a 911 call for a disturbance at the store. Ross said police were told the men asked to use the restroom but had not ordered anything, a violation of Starbucks’ policy. They were asked to leave and refused to do so, Ross said in the video.
“The police did not just happen upon this event -- they did not just walk into Starbucks to get a coffee,” Ross said in his video. “They were called there, for a service, and that service had to do with quelling a disturbance, a disturbance that had to do with trespassing. These officers did absolutely nothing wrong.”
Johnson addressed the Starbucks policy in his statement.
“Regretfully, our practices and training led to a bad outcome -- the basis for the call to the Philadelphia police department was wrong,” Johnson wrote. “Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did.”
In DePino’s video, a white man, identified by the Inquirer as Andrew Yaffe, a Philadelphia real estate investor, is seen questioning an officer about the arrest. He said the men were waiting to meet him, the Inquirer reported.
“What did they get called for, because there were two black guys sitting here, meeting me?” Yaffe said in the video. “What did they do?”
WPVI reported that an eyewitness named Lauren -- who declined to give her full name -- said a manager made the situation worse by calling police instead of asking the men to buy something or leave.
After the men had been “quietly hanging out, chatting and waiting for their friend," Lauren said officers entered the restaurant and asked the two men to leave, saying that they would be trespassing if they remained in the store.
"The two young men politely asked why they were being told to leave and were not given a reason other than the manager wanted them to leave," Lauren told WPVI in an email.
The men said they were waiting for a friend and offered to call him, Lauren told WPVI.
“The two men stayed calm and did not raise their voices once. Everyone else in the Starbucks, however, was appalled," she told the television station.
The men were released from custody at 12:30 a.m. Friday, according to Lauren Wimmer, an attorney representing them pro bono, Wimmer declined to identify the two men, the Inquirer reported. It is not clear whether Wimmer was the woman named Lauren who was interviewed by WPVI.
Johnson said Starbucks has “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,” Johnson wrote.
Sunday’s protest was organized by Black Lives Matter activist Asa Khalif, the Inquirer reported. Khalif said Johnson’s apology was “about saving face,” the Inquirer reported.
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