Starbucks CEO discusses arrest at Philadelphia store

Lawrence Kim
April 19, 2018

Mayor Jim Kenney said the commission would "review the firm's policies, guidelines and procedures, including whether Starbucks has written policies, whether the policies are enforced uniformly, and how much discretion is left to individual employees".

Johnson also promised all Starbucks employees will have "unconscious bias" training.

The two men, who have chosen to remain anonymous, did "everything right" in a situation in which they were targeted and harassed for doing something people do in restaurants, bars, etc. every day. Their arrests have drawn condemnation including by Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson.

Starbucks said later that the manager who called police "is no longer at that store". Starbucks said its USA company-owned stores and corporate offices will be closed on the afternoon of May 29 for the training, which will eventually be incorporated into the instruction process for all newly hired employees. A spokesperson said it will ideally take place this week.

The two men involved in the incident agreed on Monday to meet with Johnson, though the company did not specify an exact date. An officer says the men were not complying and were being arrested for trespassing. She denied that she had given the white man the code and she told the young man to leave the store because it is a "private business".

Starbucks Corp will close 8,000 company-owned US cafes for the afternoon on May 29 so 175,000 employees can undergo racial tolerance training in response to protests and calls for boycotts after the arrest of two black men waiting in a Philadelphia store. There is not. This would never happen to someone who looks like me. "And that is what we're focused on".

"What happened to those two gentlemen was wrong", he said.

"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.

Starbucks has moved to try to resolve the uproar over the arrest of two black men at one of its stores, announcing plans to close more than 8,000 USA stores for several hours next month to conduct racial-bias training for its almost 175,000 workers. A lawyer for the men did not immediately return messages for comment. Such rules would allow Starbucks to ask people to leave - under federal law, businesses like Starbucks can refuse service for reasons other than discrimination. "If a business calls and they say 'Someone is here that I no longer wish to be in my business, ' they (officers) now have a legal obligation to carry out their duties", he said.

Video capturing the men's arrests went viral over the weekend, sparking protests at the store and calls to boycott Starbucks.

The same morning he was being interviewed on live TV about racial profiling, protesters were chanting slogans like, "A whole lot of racism, a whole lot of crap, Starbucks coffee is anti-black", at the Starbucks in the Center City section of downtown Philly where the incident occurred. "The police were called because these men hadn't ordered anything", DePino tweeted.

The controversy is the biggest public relations test yet for new Starbucks Chief Executive Kevin Johnson, who already was fighting to boost traffic to Starbucks amid competition from coffee sellers ranging from hipster cafes to fast-food chains and convenience stores.

The demonstrators had demanded Starbucks fire the manager of the store for calling the police.

More than 8,000 Starbucks locations, including dozens in Arizona, will close for several hours next month.

News of the arrests ignited protests outside the store on Saturday, and spurred a weekend apology from Johnson, who had been said to be headed to Philadelphia in an effort to deliver a personal apology to the men.

The man filming saw a white man leave the restroom and asked if he had made a purchase. A spokesman for the district attorney's office said the two were released "because of lack of evidence" that a crime had been committed.

"I can tell you that that police officer did not want to have to make an arrest in that incident", Ross said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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