Starbucks CEO apologizes to 2 black men arrested
Philadelphia – Starbucks sells itself as a community gathering spot as much as a coffeehouse, a welcoming place with comfortable chairs for lingering, trendy music and Wi-Fi. That’s one reason the arrest of two black men who were sitting in a Starbucks struck a nerve for so many: They were doing exactly what people do at most any of the chain’s 28,000 stores worldwide.
The CEO of Starbucks Co., Kevin Johnson, called the arrests a “reprehensible outcome” and said he wants to personally apologize to the men, saying the company “stands firmly against discrimination or racial profiling.” But that didn’t stop protesters from gathering Sunday outside the store in downtown Philadelphia where the arrests occurred.
As people ordered coffee inside, the Rev. Jeffrey Jordan led a crowd of a couple dozen in chants of “I am somebody, and I demand equality now.”
“It is a shame that (in) the year 2018 we’re still putting up with this mess,” said Jordan.
The arrests, which occurred Thursday, were captured on video that quickly gained traction on social media.
Video shows several police talking quietly with two black men seated at a table. After a few minutes, officers handcuff the men and lead them outside as other customers say they weren’t doing anything wrong; Philadelphia-area media reported the two had been waiting for a friend.
Officers went to the store after Starbucks employees called 911 to report the men were trespassing, said Police Commissioner Richard Ross. He said officers were told the men had come in and asked to use the restroom but were denied because they hadn’t bought anything. He said they then refused to leave.
A spokeswoman said the Starbucks where the arrests occurred has a policy that restrooms are for paying customers only.
People demonstrate outside a Center City Starbucks in Philadelphia on Sunday.