Protests Erupt At Starbucks After Men Arrested For Sitting While Black

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“They freaking put them in handcuffs and perp walked them out the freaking store. These guys never raised their voices. They never did anything remotely aggressive.”

 

UPDATE: After two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks were arrested for apparently no reason, the manager of that shop has now left the company, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported

The unidentified manager, who was the employee who made the 911 call on the two men and reported them as "trespassing," parted ways with Starbucks mutually, according to a spokesman. 

The manager's exit comes as dozens of protesters crowded into the storefront Monday, chanting slogans such as, "A whole lot of racism, a whole lot of crap, Starbucks coffee is anti-black." 

Other demonstrators held signs saying "Too Little, Too Latte" and "#Enough Shame On Your Starbucks." 

The Starbucks store was closed due to the protests but eventually reopened in the afternoon. 

Starbucks' CEO Kevin Johnson responded to the incident in an interview with "Good Morning America."

"I'll say the circumstances surrounding the incident and the outcome at our store on Thursday were reprehensible," Johnson said. "They were wrong, and for that, I personally apologize to the gentlemen that visited our store."

He said further, "Clearly, there's an opportunity for us to provide clarity and in addition to that I'd say there's training, more training that we're going to do with our store managers, not only around the guidelines but training around unconscious bias." 

The two men have agreed to meet with Johnson. 

The Philadelphia police commissioner defended the policeman involved, saying it they were simply doing their duty in response to a trespassing complaint. 

Most activists seemed to direct their criticism at Starbucks itself, likely because it was their employee who called the police. Others saw the police as more culpable. 

Starbucks has had an embattled relationship with social justice, sometimes landing on the right side, such as its initiatives for equal pay across race and gender, other times stumbling into incidents such as this one. With many activists calling for action in a fairly clear case of racial bias, Starbucks will likely have some serious reconciliation to do with its customers. 

 


A viral video showed police officers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, arresting two African-American men from Starbucks location, at the request of employees.

The men handcuffed and escorted away from the site. The crime in question: waiting for a friend at Starbucks without having ordered anything yet. The real crime in question: sitting while black. 

The two black men in the video had arrived at Starbucks to meet a friend. Naturally, they sat down to wait for him before ordering anything.

However, the white manager of Starbucks asked them to leave, since black men must legitimize their existence in a space that supposedly does not belong to them. She then called the cops on them.

Melissa DePino, who uploaded the video of the arrest on Instagram, said “the girl behind the counter” called the cops after telling the men they were “trespassing.” When police officers arrived, they made no effort to inquire whether the two gentlemen were really trespassing.

The men asked the reason behind the arrest. However, as soon as they asked the question “more cops and more cops and more cops showed up.”

“And then they freaking put them in handcuffs and perp-walked them out the freaking store. These guys never raised their voices. They never did anything remotely aggressive,” added DePino.

At this point, the men’s friend, Andrew Yaffe, showed up. In the video, he can be heard asking why the men were being taken away in such a humiliating fashion.

“What did they get called for?” Yaffe asks an officer in the video. “Cause there are two black guys sitting here meeting me?”

Another voice exclaimed, “They didn’t do anything wrong. I saw the whole thing.”

The men were arrested and were later released after several hours. The Philadelphia Police Department failed to find any evidence against them and released a video denying any “implicit bias” in the arrest.

There are so many things the “disturbance” caused by the black men brings to the fore. 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. Black men will, therefore, not be allowed the luxury of sitting idly in a Starbucks; they must justify their presence.

 

Starbucks has released an apology, where it promises to engage with the police on these matters. But, as many point out, the police are not a neutral institution in this case.

 

Thumbnail, Banner: MELISSA DEPINO/via REUTERS

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