Earlier last month, two men were arrested in a Starbucks in Philadelphia, USA. They were waiting for a third man to arrive to conduct a business meeting and while waiting, asked to use the bathroom. They were refused as they had not yet bought anything and were asked to leave. Upon refusing to leave, an employee of Starbucks then called the police where the men were subsequently arrested on grounds of trespassing. Starbucks did not press charges and the two were later released.
A video was posted to Twitter of the incident and since been viewed over eight million times . Their business partner arrived to the cafe and was shocked to see them in handcuffs. “What did they get called for?” Mr. Yaffe asked in the video, referring to the police. “Because there are two black guys sitting here meeting me?”
@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
— Melissa DePino (@missydepino) April 12, 2018
Widespread criticism erupted and the social media campaign, #boycottstarbucks exploded over the internet causing protests to occur at the city store. The Starbucks employee who called the police has since been fired.
“I want to make sure that this situation doesn’t happen again,” Mr. Robinson said of the arrest. “What I want is for young men to not be traumatized by this, and instead motivated, inspired.”
In its statement on Wednesday, Starbucks said its agreement with Mr. Nelson and Mr. Robinson “would allow both sides to move forward and continue to talk and explore means of preventing similar occurrences at any Starbucks location.”
The two men, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, both 23, approached the company after the incident and agreed with city officials to not a file a lawsuit against the city or employees of the cafe with an offer.
Both men would take a symbolic $1 each, but insisted the city spend $200,000 to help young entrepreneurs realise their dreams. A spokesperson for the city of Philadelphia announced that the money would be spent on a pilot program for high school students, and city officials will work with Mr. Robinson and Mr. Nelson to develop a grant committee. In addition, the men have been offered an undergraduate degree through the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, an online program through Arizona State University.
“I am pleased to have resolved the potential claims against the City in this productive manner,” Mayor Jim Kenney of Philadelphia said in a statement. “This was an incident that evoked a lot of pain in our City, pain that would’ve resurfaced over and over again in protracted litigation.”
Starbucks will close its 8,000 stores across America on May 29 to conduct anti-bias training to over 175,000 of its employees.