Over the last 24 hours, music mogul Russell Simmons has called out the coffee empire for its now-infamous arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia store. Video and images of the arrest went viral on social media, and the incident triggered protests at the Philadelphia location.
The apology came as the furor built over a videotaped incident in which police at a Starbucks in the Center City district of downtown Philadelphia arrested the men Thursday after store employees said they were trespassing.
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson is in Philadelphia and has said he would like to meet with the men and city officials. The two men were removed from the premises by police, which prompted an apology from Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson. Police Commissioner Richard Ross defended his officers' actions in a statement on Facebook, saying that the officers were called to respond to a trespassing complaint and that they behaved properly and followed procedure. Two black men who had not yet ordered anything were denied the code to use the bathroom and then were asked to leave the store.
The video showed two black men calmly being arrested, while one white patron repeatedly questioned police officers on what the men did.
In the statement, Menos wrote that while it seems no laws were broken by the officers or the store employees, "we can not discount the likelihood that the race of these men played an integral part in the precipitation and overall outcome of this incident". Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did.
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Johnson, who was interviewed from Philadelphia, said it was "completely inappropriate to engage the police".
A video taken by a bystander at the Philly restaurant shows two black men being escorted out in handcuffs.
Some Philadelphians thought Johnson's apology was "too little, too latte", as written on one protest sign, and met outside the Starbucks where the arrests took place to protest.
The outcry had been overwhelmingly in defense of these two men because this is the rare clear-cut case of racial profiling caught on video. He said they then refused to leave.
"You can't do anything less threatening as a black person than hanging out at Starbucks", he said. They were released when Starbucks did not press charges. "In fact, they were really trying not to make an arrest in this case", Ross said.
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A company spokeswoman told the Philadelphia Inquirer the manager left the job "while there is an internal review pending".
After making two public statements over the weekend, Johnson flew to Philadelphia to apologize directly to the two men, who were eventually released with no charges. He's also tentatively scheduled a companywide meeting next week to "discuss some immediate next steps", and employees can expect more training "to better know when police assistance is warranted". She suggested an experiment: Go to a Starbucks and assess the demographics of people sitting there.
Now, going through this, I am going to do everything I can to ensure it is fixed and never happens again.
"The women [additional witnesses] were shocked because the gentlemen getting arrested were so calm, the whole time".
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