Two black men who were wrongfully arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks last month — Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson — settled their lawsuit with the coffee chain on Wednesday for an undisclosed amount and an offer of a free ride to college for each of them.
They also came to an agreement with the city of Philadelphia, each accepting a settlement of a symbolic $1 and a vow from city officials to launch a $200,000 counseling and mentoring program for young entrepreneurs from local high schools.
The two men, both 23, said they chose this route in order to ensure that something positive for the community came out of their disheartening ordeal.
“We thought long and hard about it, and we feel like this is the best way to see that change that we want to see,” said Robinson. “It’s not a right-now thing that’s good for right now, but I feel like we will see the true change over time.”
Both of their arrest records will be expunged as well.
“I am pleased to have resolved the potential claims against the city in this productive manner,” Mayor Jim Kenney said. “This was an incident that evoked a lot of pain in our city and put us under a national spotlight for unwanted reasons.”
As for their Starbucks settlement, in addition to the unknown dollar amount they will be receiving, the company extended the opportunity for them to have their tuition for their bachelor’s degrees fully covered through a partnership the chain has with Arizona State University, which consists of an online program created in 2014 for Starbucks employees.
Beyond that, the pair will also have the chance to make recommendations for changes to the establishment’s practices with former United States Attorney General Eric Holder.
As a result of the initial incident, Starbucks will also be closing 8,000 locations for the afternoon on May 29 so employees can participate in a racial bias training.
This is a nice start to what will, hopefully, be a major nationwide overhaul of discriminatory practices in public spaces including, but not limited to, employees following people of color through stores, restaurants asking black customers to prepay for meals, and airport security patting down black women's hair.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: REUTERS, Mark Makela