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Settlement Payment Announced For Men Arrested For Trespassing In Starbucks

Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson reached settlements with the city of Philadelphia and Starbucks on Wednesday.

Philadelphia, PA – Two men who were arrested after they refused to leave a Starbucks shop in April will receive paid college educations and an undisclosed financial sum from Starbucks, the company announced on Wednesday.

In addition to the financial settlement, Starbucks said they would have “continued listening and dialogue between the parties and specific action and opportunity,” The Washington Post reported.

In an agreement with the city, separate of the payday from Starbucks, the city of Philadelphia agreed to pay Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson $1 each, and granted their request that the city provide $200,000 in funding to assist the city’s young entrepreneurs, FOX News reported.

The men will not receive any money from the grant, which was described as being a “pilot program for city public high school students with aspirations of becoming entrepreneurs,” city officials said in a statement, according to FOX News.

The city also agreed to have Nelson and Robinson involved in the development of a committee that would distribute the grant funds, and asked the men and their attorneys to submit ideas to the city solicitor regarding other ways Philadelphia could promote equality, The Washington Post reported.

“Messrs. Nelson and Robinson have decided not to pursue a lawsuit against the City,” the statement read, according to FOX News. “Instead, they approached the City and agreed to release the City and its employees from any and all claims for a payment of $1…to each of them.”

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said he was glad to have the potential lawsuit resolved.

“Rather than spending time, money, and resources to engage in a potentially adversarial process, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson approached the City and invited us to partner with them in an attempt to make something positive come of this,” Kenney said on Wednesday.

According to ABC News, the men’s fully-funded college education opportunity will be provided through Starbucks’ partnership with Arizona State University.

“We thought long and hard about it, and we feel like this is the best way to see that change that we want to see,” Robinson said of the settlements. “It’s not a right-now thing that’s good for right now, but I feel like we will see the true change over time.”

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The controversy began on April 12, after a Philadelphia Starbucks employee called police to have Nelson and Robinson removed from the shop.

The men said that they are real estate brokers who were waiting on a third friend for a business meeting. The men didn’t buy anything, and one of them asked to use the restroom.

A Starbucks employee said that it is company policy to refuse the use of restrooms to non-customers, and eventually asked the two men to leave. When they refused, the police were called.

The police commissioner said officers responded to the coffee shop, and asked the men to leave, but they wouldn’t. He said the officers negotiated with Nelson and Robinson for 10 minutes, trying to convince them to leave the private property before they took them into custody.

The men were transported away and processed until Starbucks told them that they no longer wanted to press charges, according to The Washington Post.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross has said the police officers who made the arrests did “absolutely nothing wrong.”

Commissioner Ross said the officers followed policy, were professional in all their dealings with the two men, and only arrested them after they had refused three police requests to leave.

“It is important to emphasize and underscore that these officers had legal standing to make this arrest,” Commissioner Ross said. “Again, they were called to the scene because employees said that they were trespassing. It is important for me to say, in short, that 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, and instead, they got the opposite back.”

“I can tell you that that police officer did not want to have to make an arrest in that incident. The whole thing, we just wish it didn’t happen,” Commissioner Ross told WPVI.

The commissioner said he’d been talking directly to the CEO of Starbucks to have them reevaluate their company’s policies. He also said the incident underscored the need for more bodycams for his department.

According to Starbucks, the manager of the store where the arrests took place was no longer working at the 18th and Spruce Streets store in what the company called a “mutual” decision, ABC reported.

In a private meeting on April 16, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson personally apologized to Nelson and Robinson, according to the Washington Post.

The following day, the company announced that it would shut down 8,000 Starbucks stores on May 29 to educate employees about racial bias, WITI reported.

HollyMatkin - May Wed, 2018


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