Starbucks Philadelphia Arrest Controversy

Starbucks Philadelphia Arrest Controversy

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Updated May 21, 2018 at 05:58PM EDT by Matt.

Added Apr 16, 2018 at 11:36AM EDT by Matt.

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Overview

Starbucks Philadelphia Arrest Controversy refers to the public backlash following the arrest of two African American men at a Starbucks coffee chain restaurant, allegedly for loitering in the store without purchasing anything, in April 2018. Upon the police arrival, the men protested that they were waiting for a friend, which was captured on video by another customer and shared on Twitter. The video quickly went viral on Twitter, sparking protests against racial profiling and prompting an apology from the company.

Background

On April 12th, 2018, Twitter [1] user @missydepino posted a video of police arresting two African American men at a Starbucks in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She captioned the post, "@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." The post (shown below) received more than 12,000 comments,163,000 retweets and 223,000 likes.




Developments

Online Reaction

The following day, @missydepino tweeted,[2] "I just heard they were released at 130am last night. They are real estate brokers and were at Starbucks to meet their family friend. That’s all I have for now." The post (shown below, left) received more than 13,000 retweets and 52,000 likes in three days.

She also tweeted,[3] "Ever since I posted this, I’ve had white strangers AND friends say 'there must be something more to this story.' That assumption is a big part of the problem. It does happen. All the time. Just not to you and me. Believe it and speak up." The post (shown below, right) received more than 26,000 retweets and 101,000 likes.


I just heard they were released at 130am last night. They are real estate brokers and were at Starbucks to meet their family friend. That's all I have for now Ever since l posted this, l've had white strangers AND friends say "there must be something more to this story." That assumption is a big part of the problem It does happen. All the time. Just not to you and me. Believe it and speak up. C0

The video created conversation online about the bias against African American men and women and people of color in public spaces. Comedian Wanda Sykes tweeted,[8] "WTF? Problem, Blacks, especially Black men, are perceived as a menace. These men weren’t in a bank lobby waiting for a friend. They were in a damn Starbucks…THE 'meet me' spot in America." The post (shown below) received more than 14,000 retweets and 42,000 likes in two days.


Wanda Sykes > @iamwandasykes W--? Problem, Blacks, especially Black men, are perceived as a menace. These men weren't in a bank lobby waiting for a friend. They were in a damn Starbucks...THE "meet me" spot in America. Melissa DePino @missydepindo @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 0:45 Show this thread


On April 14th, Twitter[9] published a Moments page about the video.

That day, Redditor [10] AquaticPenguinYT posted a thread about the response in the /r/OutOfTheLoop subreddit.

#StarbucksWhileBlack and #BoycottStarbucks

Over the weekend, various people began discussing protesting and boycotting Starbucks. The conversations were catalogued by the hashtags "#StarbucksWhileBlack" and "#BoycottStarbucks" (example below).


Other places to buy your coffee that are not #StarbucksWhileBlack 47 Black Owned Coffee and Tea Businesses That are Great Alternatives to Starbucks ST.DURHAXING 200 47 Black Owned Coffee and Tea Businesses That are Great Alternatives to St.. Recently, a Philadelphia Starbucks employee called the police on two Black patrons. Their crime? Waiting for a friend. The cops still arrested them. When next you feel t... shoppeblack.us

Protests

On April 16th, people protested against racism and implicit bias in the Starbucks store where the men were arrested (video below).

That day, Twitter[11] published a Moments page about the protests.




Starbucks Response

On April 13th, Starbucks's official Twitter[4] account responded directly to the tweet and said, "We’re reviewing the incident with our partners, law enforcement and customers to determine what took place and led to this unfortunate result." The post (shown below, left) received more than 1,100 retweets and 3,300 likes in three days.

The following day, @Starbucks[5] tweeted an apology for the incident. They wrote, "We apologize to the two individuals and our customers and are disappointed this led to an arrest. We take these matters seriously and clearly have more work to do when it comes to how we handle in our stores. We are reviewing our policies and will continue to engage with our community and the police department to try to ensure these types of situations never happen in any of our stores." The post (shown below, center) received more than 18,000 comments, 6,000 retweets and 19,000 likes.

Additionally, they tweeted[6] a statement from CEO Kevin Johnson and said, "We regret that our practices and training led to the reprehensible outcome at our Philadelphia store. We’re taking immediate action to learn from this and be better." The post (shown below, right) received more than 2,700 retweets and 6,800 likes in two days.


Starbucks Coffee Starbucks Replying to @missydepino We're reviewing the incident with our partners, law enforcement and customers to determine what took place and led to this unfortunate result. Starbucks Coffee @Starbucks We apologize to the two individuals and our customers for what took place at our Philadelphia store on Thursday. We apologize to the two individuals and our customers and are disappointed this led to an arrest. We take these matters seriously and clearly have more work to do when it comes to how we handle incidents in our stores. We are reviewing our policies and will continue to engage with the community and the police department to try to ensure these types of situations never happen in any of our stores. Starbucks Coffee @Starbucks We regret that our practices and training led to the reprehensible outcome at our Philadelphia store. We're taking immediate action to learn from this and be better. A statement from ceo Kevin Johnson: Starbucks ceo: Reprehensible outcome in Philadelphia event The basis for the call to that led to the arrest of two men in a Philadelphia Starbucks was wrong and it should never have been made, wrote ceo Ke... news.starbucks.com

On April 15th, the Twitter account for Philly Weekly wrote (shown below) that the CEO would be meeting with the two men "face-to-face." They wrote, "Starbucks CEO will travel to Philly with hopes to 'meet personally with the two men who were arrested to offer a face-to-face apology.'" The post (shown below) received more than 120 retweets and 295 likes in 24 hours.


Starbucks CEO will travel to Philly with hopes to "meet personally with the two men who were arrested to offer a face-to-face apology." Starbucks Coffee Ф @Starbucks We regret that our practices and training led to the reprehensible outcome at our Philadelphia store. We're taking immediate action to learn from this and be better. A statement from ceo Kevin Johnson: sbux.co/2veMz8m Show this thread

The following day, CEO Kevin Johnson posted a video apology on the Starbucks website (clip below).



On April 17th, Starbucks announced that they would be closing more than 8,000 stores nationwide on May 29th, 2018 to conduct racial-bias training. The training will focus on preventing discrimination in Starbucks stores.[16]

"I’ve spent the last few days in Philadelphia with my leadership team listening to the community, learning what we did wrong and the steps we need to take to fix it," said Starbucks Johnson. "While this is not limited to Starbucks, we’re committed to being a part of the solution. Closing our stores for racial bias training is just one step in a journey that requires dedication from every level of our company and partnerships in our local communities."

The next day, Starbucks' executive chairman spoke with CBS this Morning about the controversy.[17] He said during the interview:

"I'm embarrassed, ashamed. I think what occurred was reprehensible at every single level. I think I take it very personally as everyone in our company does and we're committed to making it right. The announcement we made yesterday about closing our stores, 8,000 stores closed, to do significant training with our people is just the beginning of what we will do to transform the way we do business and educate our people on unconscious bias.

"It will cost millions of dollars, but I've always viewed this and things like this as not an expense, but an investment in our people and our company. And we're better than this."


Policy Change

On May 10th, CNN[24] reported that Howard Shultz was planning a policy change for how they treated guests who were not making purchases. Originally, Starbucks had a "loose" policy of leaving the decision about whether or not non-paying customers could use the bathroom up to store managers.

He said, "We don't want to become a public bathroom, but we're going to make the right decision 100% of the time and give people the key, because we don't want anyone at Starbucks to feel as if we are not giving access to you to the bathroom because you are less than. We want you to be more than."

On May 19th, the company announced that they would be updating their storewide policy to allow anyone to use its cafes and/or restrooms, no purchase necessary.[22] In an email to employees, the company wrote,[23] "Any person who enters our spaces, including patios, cafes and restrooms, regardless of whether they make a purchase, is considered a customer."

If customers are disruptive, however, the store still reserves the right to intervene. According to CNN, "The company offered specific guidelines in a document shared with employees. The list of inappropriate behaviors includes smoking, using drugs or alcohol, sleeping or improperly using the restroom. Starbucks added that customers who are unreasonably loud, watching something inappropriate on a personal device or whose personal hygiene disrupts others are not being considerate."

The reaction to policy change was mixed, with some thinking it was a great start to making for a more inviting store, others thought it could cause problems (examples below).


>Congrats to @Starbucks great humanitarian gesture. At last the homeless will have a place to come in out the cold, chat with others, wash up & use the restrooms. Love when companies learn from mistakes and act on them! CNN Ф @CNN Starbucks new policy: You can sit in their cafes without purchasing anything cnn.it/2lCnla0 If you live in a city, tell any homeless people you pass that they can now stay in Starbucks for free. I passed two homeless guys to work this morning and I asked them if they'd heard the new Starbucks policy. They were interested Once a few go, it will start a chain reaction. CNN Philippines@cnnphilippines Starbucks bathrooms are now open to all no purchase necessary bit.ly/2lxcmyE BUC OFFE

Philadelphia Police Response

On April 14th, Commissioner Richard Ross posted a video statement on Facebook [7] about the incident. In the video, he describes the incident and why the police were called, which he said were complaints of "trespassing" and a "disturbance." The commissioner recounts the incident by stating that the men were asked three times to leave by police, in addition to being asked to leave by Starbucks employees on the grounds that they had not ordered anything. He also describes the training officers undergo to avoid and be aware of implicit bias against African American men. The post (shown below) received more than 7,200 reactions, 6,000 shares and 493,000 views.



Media Coverage

Several media outlets covered the incident, including CNN,[12] The Daily Dot, [13] Uproxx,[14] BuzzFeed [15] and more.

Starbucks Employee Megaphone


On April 15th, during the protests at a Starbucks store in Philadelphia, Philadelphia Inquirer[18] photographer Michael Bryant took a picture of Black Lives Matter activist Asa Khalif pointing a megaphone at a Starbucks employee named Zack. While the photograph (shown below), looks as though the activist is yelling at Zack, the photographer said that Khalif used the megaphone to address the crowd.


เชิ EN No BUT PAC UNCH Zack

On April 16th, Twitter[19] user @SunniAndTheCity posted the picture with the caption "Currently in Philly …" The post (shown below, left) received more than 2,400 retweets and 7,700 likes in two days.

Throughout the day, people on Twitter captioned the photograph with various jokes about Starbucks, race relations and college. Twitter[20] user @iowahawkblog tweeted the photo with the caption " I should have picked a STEM major." The post (shown below, center) received more than 540 retweets and 2,300 likes in two days.

Twitter user @NifMuhammad tweeted[21] the picture with a caption that refers to Taylor Swift's cover of Earth, Wind and Fire's "September." They wrote, "Y'ALL GOTTA ANSWER FOR THAT EARTH WIND AND FIRE COVER, ZACK." The post (shown below, right) received more than 755 retweets and 3,800 likes in two days.


Currently in Philly NON thought balloon» I should have picked a STEM major NC NO Y'ALL GOTTA ANSWER FOR THAT EARTH WIND AND FIRE COVER, ZACK EN NOM UT PA

The following day, the picture was discussed on the Desus & Mero late-night talkshow. The video (shown below) received more than 79,000 views in less than 24 hours.



External References

[1] Twitter – @missydephino's Tweet

[2] Twitter – @missydepino's Tweet

[3] Twitter – @missydepino's Tweet

[4] Twitter – @Starbucks's Tweet

[5] Twitter – @Starbucks's Tweet

[6] Twitter – @Starbucks's Tweet

[7] Facebook – phillypolice's Post

[8] Twitter – @iamwandasykes's Tweet

[9] Twitter – Starbucks issues apology after two black men were handcuffed and removed from café

[10] Reddit – Why is #BoycottStarbucks trending on Twitter?

[11] Twitter – Protesters shut down Starbucks store where two black men were arrested

[12] CNN – A video of black men being arrested at Starbucks. Three very different reactions.

[13] The Daily Dot – Police commissioner says officers who arrested 2 Black men at Starbucks did ‘nothing wrong’

[14] Uproxx – Starbucks Apologizes After Video Of The Baffling Arrest Of Two Black Men At One Of Their Stores Goes Viral

[15] BuzzFeed – Two Black Men Were Arrested In Starbucks. Witnesses Say They 'Didn't Do Anything.'

[16] Starbucks – Starbucks to Close All Stores Nationwide for Racial-Bias Education on May 29

[17] CBS – Starbucks' Howard Schultz "ashamed" after controversial arrest of two black men

[18] The Inquirer – Inquirer photographer describes image behind viral Starbucks meme

[19] Twitter – @SunniAndTheCity's Tweet

[20] Twitter – @iowahawkblog's Tweet

[21] Twitter – @NifMuhammad's Tweet

[22] AP News – New Starbucks policy: No purchase needed to sit in cafes

[23] CNN – Starbucks: You don't need to buy anything to hang out in our stores

[24] CNNMoney – Starbucks' Howard Schultz: Our bathrooms are open to anyone who needs them

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