PHILADELPHIA (CBSMiami) — Protesters gathered at a Starbucks in Philadelphia on Sunday to speak out against the racially charged arrest of two black men at the same Starbucks.
The CEO of Starbucks has apologized after the video of two black men being arrested at a Philadelphia location went viral.
Starbucks’ CEO Kevin Johnson issued a statement saying the situation had a “reprehensible outcome.” He promised the company has “immediately begun a thorough investigation of our practices.”
In a statement released Saturday, Johnson said, “Starbucks stands firmly against discrimination or racial profiling. I hope to meet personally with the two men who were arrested to offer a face-to-face apology.” Johnson said Starbucks’ “practices and training led to the bad outcome” with the two men being arrested. The basis for the call to the Philadelphia police department was wrong,” he said. “Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did.”
“We know that we have work to do. We have worked very closely with the community in Philadelphia. We work with so many communities to uplift the community, to support those at risk, veterans, refugees. I deeply regret the incident that occurred,” said Starbucks Regional Manager Camille Hymes.
The video, captured by Philadelphia resident Melissa DePino, shows the tail end of what occurred during the incident that has led to public outrage. The men were waiting to meet their friend when they were asked to leave, witnesses said. It shows them being escorted out of the coffee shop in handcuffs and customers can be seen and heard telling officers that the men did nothing wrong.
Included with her tweet, DePino wrote, “The police were called because these men hadn’t ordered anything. They were waiting for a friend to show up, who did as they were taken out in handcuffs for doing nothing.”
The Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross defended the actions of the officers saying his officers “did absolutely nothing wrong.”
In a statement on Facebook Live, Ross said that Starbucks employees called 911 to report a trespassing complaint.
The employees told officers the two men wanted to use the restroom but were told the facilities are only for paying customers. The Starbucks employees then asked the men to leave, but they refused, Ross said.
Officers responded and asked the men three times “politely to leave the location because they were being asked to leave by employees because they were trespassing.” When the men again refused to leave, they were arrested “without incident,” Ross said.
The men were taken to a police station and released when it became clear Starbucks didn’t want to press charges.
“They did a service that they were called to do,” Ross said of the officers. “And if you think about it logically, that if a business calls and they say that someone is here that I no longer wish to be in my business, (officers) now have a legal obligation to carry out their duties. And they did just that.”
Ross, who is black, referenced his own experiences while making his case, saying, “As an African-American male, I am very aware of implicit bias. We are committed to fair and unbiased policing and anything less than that will not be tolerated in this department.”