Following accusations of racial profiling, the CEO of Starbucks has promised to personally meet two men arrested at one of the coffee giant’s stores for a “face-to-face apology.”
Kevin Johnson, who has been in the top job a year, apologized on Sunday after two men were reportedly escorted from a Starbucks café by police in Philadelphia. According to eyewitness Melissa DePino, who filmed the incident at the Spruce Street store last week, Starbucks staff called police on two black men waiting at a table for a friend without ordering.
“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,” she posted online. “All the other white people are wondering why it’s never happened to us when we do the same thing.”
Footage of the incident shows Philadelphia police officers arresting the two men while another man asks why such action is being taken. “What did they get called for, because there are two black guys sitting here?” he can be heard to say.
Philadelphia police commissioner Richard Ross has since defended the officers involved, saying they were responding to a 911 call from Starbucks staff regarding two men “trespassing.” He added that the pair were eventually arrested after refusing requests to leave by Starbucks staff as well as police.
The incident is said to have started after one of the men sought to use the bathroom having not ordered.
“It is important to underscore that these officers had legal standing to make this arrest,” Ross said in a statement.
“Again, they were called to the scene because employees said they were trespassing. It is important for me to say that in short, these officers did absolutely nothing wrong. They followed policy, they did what they were supposed to do, they were professional in all their dealings with these gentlemen and instead they got the opposite back,” he said.
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson has since offered his apologies for the company’s part in the arrests, promising to investigate the circumstances and “make things right.”
“The video shot by customers is very hard to watch and the actions in it are not representative of our Starbucks mission and values. Regretfully, our practices and training led to a bad outcome – the basis for the call to the Philadelphia police department was wrong,” Johnson said.
He added: “Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did.”