Star­bucks plans to of­fer man­agers bias train­ing

More protests held at Philly shop where 2 black men ar­rested

The Detroit News - - News - BY KRIS­TEN DE GROOT AND JOSEPH PISANI As­so­ci­ated Press

Philadel­phia – Star­bucks wants to add train­ing for store man­agers on “un­con­scious bias,” CEO Kevin John­son said Mon­day, as ac­tivists held more protests at a Philadel­phia store where two black men were ar­rested af­ter em­ploy­ees said they were tres­pass­ing.

John­son, who has called the ar­rests “rep­re­hen­si­ble,” ar­rived in Philadel­phia this week­end af­ter video of the in­ci­dent gained trac­tion on­line. He said he hopes to meet with the two men in the next cou­ple of days and apol­o­gize face to face.

“I’d like to have a di­a­logue with them and the op­por­tu­nity to lis­ten to them with com­pas­sion and em­pa­thy through the ex­pe­ri­ence they went through,” said John­son, who has been CEO for about a year. Ste­wart Co­hen, the lawyer for the two men, said he hopes “some­thing pro­duc­tive for the com­mu­nity” can come out of such a meet­ing.

The in­ci­dent is a ma­jor blow to Star­bucks’ im­age, since the com­pany has pro­moted its cof­fee shops as neigh­bor­hood hang­outs where any­one is wel­come. Af­ter a video of the ar­rests spread on­line, the hash­tag #Boy­cottS­tar­bucks trended on Twit­ter.

And on Mon­day morn­ing, about two dozen pro­test­ers took over the Philadel­phia shop, chant­ing slo­gans like, “A whole lot of racism, a whole lot of crap, Star­bucks cof­fee is anti-black.” A Star­bucks re­gional vice pres­i­dent who at­tempted to talk to the pro­test­ers was shouted down.

“We don’t want this Star­bucks to make any money to­day. That’s our goal,” said Ab­dul-Aliy Muham­mad, one of the protest or­ga­niz­ers and co-founder of the Black and Brown Work­ers Col­lec­tive.

Over the week­end, de­mon­stra­tors called for the fir­ing of the em­ployee who con­tacted po­lice, who ar­rested the men on Thurs­day. Star­bucks did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment about the em­ploy­ment sta­tus of the man­ager who called po­lice.

Of­fi­cials have said the of­fi­cers were told the men had asked to use the store’s re­stroom but were de­nied be­cause they hadn’t bought any­thing, and they re­fused to leave.

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. A white man iden­ti­fied as real es­tate de­vel­oper An­drew Yaffe ar­rives and

nected to other peo­ple (he re­mem­bers the bodega cashier’s name) — and more present in the mo­ment.

“I’m way more con­scious of my sur­round­ings than if I was on my screen,” he said. “I have friends who strug­gle look­ing at a sub­way map. I think peo­ple should throw their phone away. It would be good for them.”

Co­chet ad­mits there are sac­ri­fices. The phone has a shoddy cam­era and no group tex­ting or ride-shar­ing apps, but he copes just fine. No Uber? A car ser­vice is on speed dial. No Venmo? He al­ways has cash. And Co­chet is by no means en­tirely dis­con­nected. He uses his lap­top at night to check email, browse the web and

watch Net­flix. (He’s a big fan of “Black Mir­ror.”) He lis­tens to pod­casts on a $25 MP3 player.

“I’m dis­man­tling what the iPhone can do into dif­fer­ent ob­jects,” he said.

Jim Thatcher, 37, a pro­fes­sor of geospa­tial tech­nolo­gies at the Uni­ver­sity of Wash­ing­ton Ta­coma, switched to a flip phone a year ago af­ter his smart­phone broke.

“I tried to go with­out a phone for about three weeks,” he said. “How­ever, with two kids, there’s an ex­pec­ta­tion that I’m reach­able if some­thing goes wrong, so I or­dered the cheap­est Ver­i­zon flip phone I could find on eBay. I’ve had it since then.”

Thatcher is ac­tive on so­cial me­dia but he uses de­vices other than his phone to ac­cess his ac­counts. “I wanted to be more pur­pose­ful in how I en­gaged in my day-to-day life,” Thatcher said. “I found my­self star­ing at my phone more than I was out hang­ing with my kids.”

If ditch­ing your smart­phone com­pletely feels too ex­treme, there’s an in-be­tween op­tion: the Light Phone, the self-de­scribed “anti-smart­phone phone.”

The first Light Phone went on sale in 2015. The lat­est ver­sion is in test­ing now and slated for re­lease next year. It’s just as pleas­ing to look at as the iPhone, but re­duces your apps to a hand­ful such as calls, mes­sag­ing, GPS, con­tacts and ride-hail­ing. It won’t have so­cial me­dia, a browser or email.

More than 4,000 peo­ple have pre-or­dered the Light Phone 2, ac­cord­ing to com­pany CEO Kai­wei Tang. He ex­pects that fig­ure to in­crease to more than 10,000, which is the num­ber of peo­ple who bought the orig­i­nal Light Phone.

Jose F. Moreno / AP

Jen­nifer Ben­netch and her son Yusuf Williams-Bey protest out­side the Star­bucks at 18th & Spruce streets in Philadel­phia, Mon­day.

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