Star­bucks tu­mult

The Washington Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY RACHEL SIEGEL AND ALEX HORTON

The com­pany CEO called for “un­con­scious bias” train­ing af­ter two black men were ar­rested at a Philadel­phia store.

The chief ex­ec­u­tive of Star­bucks on Mon­day called for “un­con­scious bias” train­ing for store man­agers and apol­o­gized for what he called “rep­re­hen­si­ble” cir­cum­stances that led to the ar­rest of two black men at a Philadel­phia store last week.

Kevin John­son said in an in­ter­view on “Good Morn­ing Amer­ica” that the com­pany was re­view­ing the ac­tions of the store man­ager who had called the po­lice. John­son said that “what hap­pened to those two gen­tle­men was wrong.”

“My re­spon­si­bil­ity is to look not only to that in­di­vid­ual but look more broadly at the cir­cum­stances that set that up, just to en­sure that never hap­pens again,” the ex­ec­u­tive told in­ter­viewer Robin Roberts.

John­son is ex­pected to meet with the two men, the com­pany said, but it did not say when.

Protests con­tin­ued Mon­day at the Star­bucks where the men were ar­rested. Peo­ple gath­ered out­side but were driven in­side by heavy rains. “Good Morn­ing Amer­ica” de­scribed the protest in­side the Star­bucks as “a standin.”

About 6 a.m. Mon­day, a Philadel­phia Inquirer re­porter tweeted that roughly 40 pro­test­ers were at the Star­bucks in a rel­a­tively up­scale neigh­bor­hood of the city. One per­son in the crowd hoisted a sign that read, “Is she fired or nah?” — a ref­er­ence to the store man­ager who called the po­lice. Oth­ers chanted, “An­tiblack­ness any­where is anti-black­ness ev­ery­where!”

Star­bucks said later Mon­day that the store man­ager “is no longer at that store.”

Just be­fore 1 p.m., a re­porter tweeted a photo of a sign out­side the Star­bucks that said the lo­ca­tion was tem­porar­ily closed.

Ros­alind Brewer, Star­bucks’s chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer, in an in­ter­view with NPR, called the in­ci­dent a “teach­able mo­ment for all of us.” She said that as an African Amer­i­can ex­ec­u­tive with a 23year-old son, she found the cell­phone videos of the in­ci­dent painful to watch.

“It would be easy for us to say that this was a one-em­ployee sit­u­a­tion, but I have to tell you, it’s time for us to, my­self in­cluded, take per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity here and do the best that we can to make sure we do ev­ery­thing we can,” Brewer said.

At least two videos cap­tured the tense mo­ment when at least six Philadel­phia po­lice of­fi­cers stood over two seated black men, ask­ing them to leave. One of­fi­cer said that the men were not com­ply­ing and were be­ing ar­rested for tres­pass­ing.

“Why would they be asked to leave?” An­drew Yaffe asked on a video. Yaffe runs a real estate de­vel­op­ment firm and wanted to dis­cuss busi­ness in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties with the two men. “Does any­body else think this is ridicu­lous?” he asked peo­ple nearby. “It’s ab­so­lute dis­crim­i­na­tion.”

The two uniden­ti­fied men were taken out in hand­cuffs soon af­ter. They were held for nearly nine hours be­fore be­ing re­leased, said Lau­ren Wim­mer, an at­tor­ney. No charges were filed, au­thor­i­ties said.

One video rock­eted across so­cial me­dia, with more than 9 mil­lion views by Mon­day morn­ing.

John­son said Mon­day morn­ing that there are sce­nar­ios that war­rant a call to po­lice — in­clud­ing threats and other dis­tur­bances — but that in this case, “it was com­pletely in­ap­pro­pri­ate to en­gage the po­lice.”

The po­lice were crit­i­cized for their han­dling of the sit­u­a­tion. On Mon­day, the depart­ment re­ferred to the po­lice com­mis­sioner’s Face­book Live video from Satur­day. Com­mis­sioner Richard Ross said in the video that one or both of the men asked to use the re­stroom but had not bought any­thing. An em­ployee said Star­bucks com­pany pol­icy was to refuse the use of the bath­rooms to non-cus­tomers and asked the men to leave, ac­cord­ing to Ross. The em­ployee called the po­lice when they re­fused.

“These of­fi­cers did ab­so­lutely noth­ing wrong. They fol­lowed pol­icy. They did what they were sup­posed to do. They were pro­fes­sional in all their deal­ings with these gen­tle­men,” Ross said in the video. “And in­stead, they got the op­po­site back.” Ross said po­lice ar­rested the men af­ter they re­fused three re­quests to leave.

Ross, who is black, said he was aware of is­sues of im­plicit bias — un­con­scious dis­crim­i­na­tion based on race — but did not say whether he be­lieved it ap­plied in this case. He said the in­ci­dent un­der­scores the need for more body-worn cam­eras to present dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives of po­lice re­sponses. The of­fi­cers were not wear­ing cam­eras, he said.

Star­bucks does not have a com­pany-wide pol­icy on ask­ing mem­bers of the pub­lic to leave, a com­pany of­fi­cial said.

“It’s time for us to, my­self in­cluded, take per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity here.” Ros­alind Brewer, Star­bucks chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer, in an in­ter­view with NPR

MARK MAKELA/REUTERS

Pro­tes­tors demon­strate Mon­day in­side the Philadel­phia Star­bucks where two black men were ar­rested last week. “What hap­pened to those two gen­tle­men was wrong,” com­pany chief ex­ec­u­tive Kevin John­son said Mon­day in an in­ter­view on “Good Morn­ing Amer­ica.”

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