Starbucks protests aren’t going away after arrest of two black men in Philadelphia

Outrage has been growing over the incident where the men were handcuffed and removed by five to seven police officers.
April 16, 2018, 12:30pm

“Too little, too latte.”

That was one of the chants heard at ongoing protests Monday morning outside a Philadelphia Starbucks store where two black men were arrested last week for trespassing, as executives from the coffee chain announced moves to address the fallout.

“We don't want this Starbucks to make any money today. That's our goal,” Abdul-Aliy Muhammad, one of the protest's organizers and co-founder of the Black and Brown Workers Collective, told the Sun Sentinel, on the fourth day of protests since the Thursday incident. Some protesters held banners reading “End Stop and Frisk,” some chanted “Starbucks coffee is anti-black,” and some went inside to try to block customers from buying anything.

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Social media users have been using the hashtag #BoycottStarbucks since the incident came to light, and the city’s mayor called it an example of “what racial discrimination looks like in 2018.”

The protesters are calling on Starbucks to fire an employee who called the police on two black men on Thursday. The men were denied access to the store’s restroom because they hadn’t bought anything. When they refused to leave, reportedly because they were waiting for one of their friends to arrive, the employee called 911. The men were handcuffed and removed from the Philadelphia coffee shop by five to seven police officers. Reports haven’t given the name or details about the employee.

The video has amassed almost 10 million views on Twitter, and, despite the coffee chain releasing a public apology, protesters are not letting up.

On Monday, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said Starbucks employees would have to undergo bias training. On ABC’S “Good Morning America,” Johnson said the arrests were “reprehensible” and that he wanted to meet the men personally to apologize and discuss a “constructive solution.” The two men agreed to meet with the CEO.

“So, clearly, there's an opportunity for us to provide clarity and in addition to that I'd say there's training, more training that we're going to do with our store managers, not only around the guidelines but training around unconscious bias,” Johnson said.

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In a video statement on Facebook, the Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross said the officers asked the two men to leave, but they refused, resulting in an arrest. He said the officers did “absolutely nothing wrong.”

“[The police officers] followed policy. They did what they were supposed to do, they were professional in all their dealings with these gentlemen and instead, they got the opposite back,” Ross said. “I will say that as an African American man, 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.”

Ross said all commanders in his department receive implicit bias training, the kind of training Starbucks employees are now going to get.

“We want them to know about the atrocities that were, in fact, committed by policing around the world,” he said.

Cover image: Protestors carry signs outside a Starbucks in Philadelphia, April 16, 2016. (Michael Bryant/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)