Posted on April 17, 2018

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson Meets with Black Men to Apologize

Hannah Perry, Daily Mail, April 17, 2018

The CEO of Starbucks CEO has met with the two black men arrested without cause at a Philadelphia store.

Kevin Johnson branded the incident ‘reprehensible’ after video went viral of two customers being confronted by cops after the store manager called the police to report they were ‘loitering’. The pair were later released without charge.

The footage sparked a furious backlash against Starbucks and in-store protests.

On Monday, Johnson traveled to the Philadelphia store to meet the two men and apologize in person, a Starbucks spokesperson told CBS Philadelphia.

He said that Starbucks wanted to add training for store managers on ‘unconscious bias’ after calling the incident ‘reprehensible’.

‘I’d like to have a dialogue with them and the opportunity to listen to them with compassion and empathy through the experience they went through,’ he said ahead of the meeting.

Johnson said it was ‘completely inappropriate to engage the police’.

The incident is a major blow to Starbucks’ image, since the company has promoted its coffee shops as neighborhood hangouts where anyone is welcome.

The Philadelphia Starbucks manager who called 911 on two black men last week (pictured above being arrested) no longer works with the company, a spokesperson revealed on Monday

The CEO met with the men as around two dozen protesters took over the shop Monday, accusing the company of racial profiling and demanding they change their policy of calling the police.

From 7.30am, protesters stood in front of the counter, chanting slogans such as ‘Starbucks coffee is anti-black.’

Protesters had called for the employee who called the police on Thursday to be fired over the incident.

A representative for Starbucks said on Monday that the female employee, who hasn’t been identified, had left the coffee chain.

The two men, who had not made a purchase, were handcuffed and arrested for trespassing on Thursday after the Philadelphia store manager called 911 and reported them for refusing to leave.

The incident sparked accusations of racial profiling at the coffee chain.

Police later released the two men and they were not charged.

The incident sparked accusations of racial profiling at the coffee chain and prompted activists to start protesting at the Philadelphia store

Protestor Soren McClay, 14, demonstrates outside a Starbucks on Sunday in Philadelphia

After footage of the arrests spread online, the hashtag #BoycottStarbucks trended on Twitter.

About two dozen protesters took over the Philadelphia shop on Monday, chanting slogans like, ‘A whole lot of racism, a whole lot of crap, Starbucks coffee is anti-black.’

A Starbucks regional vice president who attempted to talk to the protesters was shouted down.

Officials have said police officers were told the men had asked to use the store’s restroom but were denied because they hadn’t bought anything and they refused to leave.

Video shows several police talking quietly with two black men seated at a table. After a few minutes, officers handcuff the men and lead them outside as other customers say they weren’t doing anything wrong.

A white man identified as real estate developer Andrew Yaffe arrives and tells the officers the two men were waiting for him. An officer says the men were not complying and were being arrested for trespassing.

‘Why would they be asked to leave?’ Yaffe says. ‘Does anybody else think this is ridiculous? It’s absolute discrimination.’

A woman can be heard in the video saying ‘they didn’t do anything, I saw the entire thing.’

Police haven’t released the names of the men, who were later released after the district attorney’s office said there was lack of evidence that a crime had been committed.

Police Commissioner Richard Ross, who is black, defended the arrests in a video statement on Saturday.

Ross said the officers ‘did absolutely nothing wrong’ and were professional in their conduct toward the individuals but ‘got the opposite back.’

Johnson said the company will ensure that employee guidelines on when the police should be called will be clarified.

Asked if the incident was a case of racism, Johnson said: ‘Starbucks was built around the concept of a third place where we create a warm and welcoming environment for all customers. What I do know is that did not happen in this instance. And that is what we’re focused on.’

Seattle-based Starbucks had posted a statement on Twitter over the weekend about the arrests, followed by an apology from Johnson.

Local Black Lives Matter activist Asa Khalif, left, stands inside the Starbucks on Sunday demanding that the manager be fired

‘Every company makes mistakes, but great companies are the ones that learn from those mistakes and take appropriate action,’ Johnson said Monday. ‘And that’s exactly what I intend to do. We’re reviewing all aspects of this.’

Criminal defense attorney Lauren Wimmer, who is representing the two men, said that race clearly played a role in the incident.

‘I would love to hear the 911 call on this case,’ Wimmer told NBC Nightly News on Sunday.

‘Can you imagine the 911 call if it was “There’s two white women sitting here. One of them asked to used the bathroom and she didn’t order anything, come quick!”,’ she said.

Wimmer declined to identify the two men.

‘Two young black men, who were simply waiting to be joined by a friend, were blatantly discriminated against based on their race. Not only is this inexcusable, it’s illegal,’ Wimmer said in a statement.