A video that shows two black men being arrested in a Philadelphia Starbucks has drawn national outrage and prompted an apology from the coffee giant’s top executive.
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson on Saturday expressed his “deepest apologies” to the men, who were arrested Thursday after refusing to leave the coffee shop because they did not make a purchase.
An employee accused the men of trespassing.
Johnson hoped to “make things right” by having the Seattle-based company review its policies to prevent similar situations from unfolding in the future.
Meanwhile, Johnson said he plans on traveling to Philadelphia.
“I hope to meet personally with the two men who were arrested to offer a face-to-face apology,” Johnson said.
The two black men were waiting for a third person for a business meeting, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported, when a store employee said they were trespassing and called the local authorities.
Viral video shows the two men handcuffed and being led out of a Starbucks by Philadelphia police on Thursday.
(@missydepino via Twitter)
“Regretfully, our practices and training led to a bad outcome,” Johnson wrote. “The basis for the call to the Philadelphia police department was wrong. Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did.”
Police commissioner Richard Ross defended his officers who made the arrest, which were captured in a viral video viewed more than four million times. The commissioner said the officers “did absolutely nothing wrong” and acted professionally.
Ross, who is black, said he’s sensitive to race-related incidents.
“As an African-American male, I am very aware of implicit bias; we are committed to fair and unbiased policing,” he said.
Still, he said officers had acted according to protocol.
“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, they (the officers) now have a legal obligation to carry out their duties. And they did just that,” Ross said.
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said he wants to “make things right” after the Thursday arrest.
The Inquirer reports the duo was released from custody early Friday, citing their lawyer, Lauren Wimmer.
“The video speaks for itself,” Wimmer said in a statement, calling the arrest “reprehensible.”
“Two young black men, who were simply waiting to be joined by a friend, were blatantly discriminated against based on their race,” she wrote. “Not only is this inexcusable. It’s illegal.”
Another video shows Alan Yaffe, the third party to the meeting and a real estate professional, challenging the arrest.
“What did they get called for?” he asked. “Because there are two black guys sitting here meeting me? Tell me, what did they do?” Jaffe is heard saying.
“I wanted to get coffee for two black guys sitting and meeting with me,” he says. “Does anybody else think this is ridiculous?” he asks other cafe patrons.
@Starbucks 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. All the other white ppl are wondering why it’s never happened to us when we do the same thing. pic.twitter.com/0U4Pzs55Ci