Philadelphia, PA – The manager of the Starbucks who called the police on two black men who refused to leave the coffee shop no longer works there, and the CEO of Starbucks will be sending all of his store managers to special training so nothing like that happens again.
“I will fix this,” Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said in a videotaped message, according to The Washington Post.
To that end, the company announced Tuesday that it will shut 8,000 Starbucks stores on May 29 to educate employees about racial bias, WITI reported.
Two black men were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks on April 12 after an employee called police to have them removed.
The men were real estate brokers who were waiting on a third friend for a business meeting before they ordered their coffee, 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 then asked the two men to leave. When they refused, the police were called.
Several cellphone videos captured the tense moment when at least six Philadelphia police officers responded to the store and asked the two seated black men to leave, The Washington Post reported.
When the men did not comply with the officers’ request, they were arrested and held 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.
“I’ll say the circumstances surrounding the incident and the outcome at our store on Thursday were reprehensible,” Johnson said in an exclusive interview ABC’s Good Morning America on April 16.
“They were wrong, and for that, I personally apologize to the gentlemen that visited our store,” he said.
According to Starbucks, the manager of the store where the arrests took place was no longer working there at the 18th and Spruce Streets store in what the company called a “mutual” decision, ABC reported.
Johnson said that some situations warrant a call to police, such as threats or disturbances, but that in this case, “it was completely inappropriate to engage the police,” The Washington Post reported.
Starbuck Chief Operating Officer Rosalind Brewer called the arrests a “teachable moment for all of us.”
“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, according to The Washington Post.
Johnson met with the men who had been arrested on Monday in a private meeting to issue his apology.