Two Black Men Arrested At Starbucks Settle With Philadelphia For $2–And Educational Grants For Public School Kids

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Written by Ann Brown

Talk about turning a “reprehensible” experience into a positive outcome. Following the arrest of two young Black men, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, at a Philadelphia Starbucks for trespassing, a video of the incident went viral and public outrage ensued. The two men had waiting for a friend to arrive at the coffee shop but the manager of that Starbucks called the police, who then detained Nelson and Robinson for eight hours at the police station before being released with no charges. The unjust arrest led to apologies all around and Starbucks announcing it will close 8,000 stores for an afternoon to train nearly 175,000 workers in “racial-bias education.” The city of Philadelphia also offered Robinson and Nelson a monetary settlement.

“They will each be paid $1. In addition, Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson, both 23, will release the city and employees of all claims in exchange for the creation of a $200,000 fund that, through the help of a nonprofit organization, will assist young entrepreneurs in Philadelphia,” NBC News reported.

Robinson and Nelson decided to pay it forward to help others. The pair will also serve on a committee to establish and award the grants. The aim to start a pilot curriculum to teach public high school students entrepreneurial skills.

“Looking at how we took a negative and turned it into a positive, that’s really all we want,” Robinson said Thursday morning during the duo’s interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Robinson told “GMA” the grant’s aim will be to teach “not just about entrepreneurship, but proper etiquette (and) proper literacy, and knowing about taxes and how to use money as a tool.”

Nelson, Robinson, nor their attorneys received any payment from the grant funds. According to Philadelphia’s mayor, the  money will come from the budget of the city’s Finance Department.

“I am pleased to have resolved the potential claims against the city in this productive manner,” Mayor Jim Kenney 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, which presents significant legal risks and high financial and emotional costs for everyone involved.”

“The men reached a separate agreement with Starbucks that “includes a confidential financial settlement,” according to the company. We may never know how much Starbucks is on the hook for. But whatever it is, those men deserve every cent of it,” the Chicago Tribune reported.

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About Ann Brown

Ann Brown has been a freelance writer for more than two decades. Her work has appeared in CocoaFab, Black Enterprise, Essence, MadameNoire.com, New York Trend, Upscale, Moguldom, AFKInsider, The Network Journal, Playboy, Africa Strictly Business, For Harriet, Pathfinders, Black Meetings & Tourism, Frequent Flier, Girl, Honey, Source Sports, The Source, Black Radio Exclusive, and Launch. She studied journalism at New York University and has her B.A. Born in New York, Ann lived in Praia, Cabo Verde, for nearly a decade. She created “An American In Cabo Verde,” a Facebook community.