Starbucks staff call police on two black men because 'they didn’t order anything'
It's a sad state of affairs when two young black men can't go into Starbucks and peacefully wait for a friend without there being an issue. Shockingly, despite the fact that this is 2018 and the world is seemingly a more accepting place, that is exactly what happened to two men in Philadelphia.
In a video posted on Twitter by Melissa DePino, two African-American men are seen being arrested inside of a Starbucks for seemingly no apparent reason. DePino captioned the video:
"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 people are wondering why it's never happened to us when we do the same thing."
In the video, a man can be seen telling the officers that he was there to meet the two men and was asking what they have done in order to warrant being arrested by the police. Others can also be heard repeatedly saying, "They didn't do anything."
Despite the negativity being aimed at both the police force and Starbucks, Richard Ross, Philadelphia Police Commissioner, has defended the actions of his officers, saying that they "did absolutely nothing wrong."
Recording a statement on Facebook Live, Ross explained that Starbucks employees called the police to report a trespassing complaint. According to Ross, the employees told officers that they had repeatedly asked the two men to leave the shop as they wanted to use the restroom without paying for a drink. The men refused, leading to the call.
Once the officers arrived, they asked the men to "politely leave the location because they were being asked to leave by employees because they were trespassing." However, when the men continued to refuse, they were arrested "without incident."
"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 also African-American, 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."
While Starbucks may have moved quickly to apologise for the incident, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said Starbucks' apology "is not enough." He said he "asked the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations to examine the firm's policies and procedures, including the extent of, or need for, implicit bias training for its employees."
Kenney said he's "heartbroken to see Philadelphia in the headlines for an incident like that," which he says "appears to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018."
"Starbucks should be a place where everyone is treated the same, no matter the color of their skin," Kenney says.
While the rules regarding Starbucks toilets are well-known and fair, it seems ridiculous to call the police on two men who were peacefully waiting for a friend. Let's hope the company train their staff to deal with things in a much more dignified and understated manner.