Starbucks CEO calls for ‘unconscious bias’ training
Damage control continues after two black men arrested.
The chief executive of Starbucks on Monday called for “unconscious bias” training for store managers and unequivocally apologized for what he called “reprehensible” circumstances that led to the arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia store.
Starbucks Chief Executive Kevin Johnson said on “Good Morning America” that the company was reviewing the actions of the store manager who 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,” Johnson told GMA anchor Robin Roberts.
Johnson, who flew to Philadelphia as protests broke out, said he hoped to meet with the two men to apologize.
NBC and CNN reported that Johnson was expected to meet with the two men. Exactly when the meeting would take place was not immediately clear.
The manager who called the police on the two men no longer works at Starbucks, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. The newspaper described a “mutual” decision between the manager and the company.
Protests continued on Monday at the Starbucks w h e r e t h e m e n w e r e arrested. GMA described the protests inside the Starbucks as “a stand-in,” with NPR reporting chants of “Star- bucks coffee is anti-black.”
At least six Philadelphia Police officers stood over two seated black men, asking them to leave. The officer said that they were not complying and were being arrested for trespassing.
The two unidentified men were taken out in handcuffs soon after. The men were held for nearly nine hours, said Lauren Wimmer, an attorney who represented the men. No charges were filed.
Police Commissioner Richard Ross addressed the incident on Facebook Live on Saturday, saying that one or both of the men asked to use the restroom but had not purchased 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. to remove it voluntarily so it can be sent back to the manufacturer or destroyed.
Lara Anton, a spokeswoman for the agency, said it is simply trying to clarify and enforce existing rules because i nspectors have been encountering a proliferation of CBD products made out of state that are being shipped into Texas for sale, and they’re perplexed as to how to handle them.
Foods and supplements that merely promote “hemp oil” as an i ngredient still could be sold in Texas under the plan, Anton said, because the state agency would assume the concentrations of CBD and THC they contain are at trace levels only. But anything specifically advertising CBD or THC on its label would have to be removed.
“If you have l i s t e d i t as an i ngredient on your label, then it’s clearly at an enhanced level,” she said.
The health services department isn’t planning to do any actual testing of products, Anton said, although there would be a procedure for companies to have independent lab analysis done to prove only trace concentrations if they want to keep selling in Texas.
She said there is no timetable for the agency to make a decision on the plan, although a public comment period on it ended Monday.
Sales of CBD products under the Texas Compassionate Use Act, which are allowed only to certain patients suffering from rare intractable epilepsy and under a doctor’s direction, won’t be affected by the proposal.
But Morris Denton, chief executive of Compassionate Cultivation — one of three medical cannabis dispensaries licensed under the restrictive law — said he considers the health agency’s potential crackdown on over-the-counter retail products “a step back” for Texans nonetheless if it isn’t coupled with a plan to make regulated CBD products available to more people.
“It’s troubling to me that a great percentage of Texans will no longer be able to achieve that benefit” derived from CBD, said Denton, whose dispensary is in Manchaca. “If you are just taking a product away from people that has helped them, but not giving them a legal solution, then I think that is a step back.”
The Compassionate Use Act is overseen by the Texas Department of Public Safety, and it requires that products made by the three dispensaries be tested and contain at least 10 percent CBD. Some over-the-counter CBD products sold at retail stores in Texas face only light regulations in the states where they are made, and tests have shown that they don’t always contain the concentrations of ingredients they tout.
Connor Oakley, executive director of the Medical Cannabis Association of Texas, said he supports more testing of CBD products sold at retail. But he agreed with Denton that removing them from shelves absent a larger plan is troubling.
“To take this away from Texans would be a great disservice — just completely out of the blue, it’s a huge, unnecessary step backwards,” Oakley said. “Maybe (the health agency) could propose some testing parameters, if they feel it is as urgent as they seem to.”