Protests Continue At Philadelphia Starbucks Where Two Black Men Were Arrested For Trespassing

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Written by Ann Brown

The recent arrest of two young Black men seemingly doing nothing but waiting for a friend at a Starbucks in Philadelphia resulted in protests and calls for boycotts of the coffee chain from many including rapper T.I.

Protesters met at the downtown Philadelphia Starbucks location where the men were accused of trespassing and led out in handcuffs after a store manager called the police. Protesters came with bullhorns and signs to the Starbucks on Spruce Street.

“We want the manager fired form this establishment for racially profiling black people,” a man boomed from the bullhorn, ABC News reported. “We want the police officers in the arrest fired as well.” Later Starbucks did announce the manager had been fired.

“The demonstration began around noon outside the City Center Starbucks, with protesters carrying megaphones and signs that read ‘Too Little Too Latte,’ and “#Enough/Shame On Your Starbucks.” Some social media users have begun using the hashtag #BoycottStarbucks in posts about the arrest,” NPR reported.

The arrests of the men–who have still not been identified–was captured and shared online by Melissa DePino, a 50-year-old mother of two who told ABC News she would never again frequent Starbucks. “It was humiliating for those guys,” Depino told ABC News. “They were completely minding their own business.” The video has been viewed more than 9 million times. Depino told Philadelphia magazine, “These guys never raised their voices. They never did anything remotely aggressive … I was sitting close to where they were. Very close. They were not doing anything. They weren’t.”

Even though the police did not charge the two men, the police depart is saying the “officers did a service they were called to do.” And in fact, Commissioner Richard Ross of the Philadelphia Police Department  said, “On three different occasions the officers asked the two males politely to leave the location because they were being asked to leave by employees because they were trespassing. Instead the males continued to refuse as they had told the employees and they told the officers they were not leaving.” Police took the men to a police station where they were fingerprinted and photographed; they were finally released nearly eight hours later, and charges were never filed.

Meanwhile Starbuck’s chief executive officer, Kevin Johnson, issued a formal apology.

“The video shot by customers is very hard to watch and the actions in it are not representative of our Starbucks mission and values,” Johnson said in a prepared statement. “Creating an environment that is both safe and welcoming for everyone is paramount for every store. Regretfully, our practices and training led to a bad outcome–the basis for the call to the Philadelphia police department was wrong. Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did.”

Even Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney criticized Starbucks and said that the incident “appears to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018.”

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Michelle Brown, 50, left, demonstrates outside a Center City Starbucks, April 15, 2018 in Philadelphia.