Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson says, “It was completely inappropriate to engage the police” in Philadelphia when two men refused to leave the coffee shop after not ordering food or drink. Two black men were arrested and one was taken away in handcuffs in an episode Johnson called “reprehensible.”
An employee who called police to the Philadelphia Starbucks where two black men were arrested last week is no longer working there, Starbucks said on Monday, as the company’s chief executive apologized for the “reprehensible” episode, the New York Times reports. Chief executive Kevin Johnson told ABC that what happened to the men was “wrong,” and that he wanted to meet with them to apologize. Johnson said the company was reviewing its guidelines, which can differ among its 28,000 stores worldwide, and that it would invest in unconscious bias training. The company instructs employees to call the police in certain situations, such as those involving “threats or disturbance,” he said. “In this case, none of that occurred. It was completely inappropriate to engage the police.”
Demonstrators filled the store on Monday morning. The protests continued on the city’s streets throughout the afternoon. On Thursday, the two men asked to use the coffee shop’s restroom. An employee refused the request because the men had not bought anything. They sat down, and they were eventually asked to leave. When they declined, an employee called the police. Some of what happened next was recorded in a video that has been viewed over 10 million times on Twitter and that was described by Johnson as “very hard to watch.” Police officers surrounded the men and escorted one of them out of the Starbucks in handcuffs. The other soon followed. The prosecutor’s office declined to charge the men because of “a lack of evidence that a crime was committed,” said spokesman Benjamin Waxman.