Outraged social media users are urging people to #BoycottStarbucks over an incident in which a Philadelphia store called the police on two black men.
Calls to #BoycottStarbucks on Twitter reached a fever pitch on Saturday after one user posted a video of six police officers arresting two black men waiting to meet someone in the downtown Philadelphia coffee shop.
@Starbucks 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. All the other white ppl are wondering why it’s never happened to us when we do the same thing. pic.twitter.com/0U4Pzs55Ci
— Melissa DePino (@missydepino) April 12, 2018
The video, which Philadelphia-based author Melissa DePino posted Thursday, shows at least six Philadelphia police officers arresting the men and placing them in handcuffs without facing any resistance. As of Sunday evening, the video had gained 9.34 million views.
Many users accused Starbucks of promoting “racism” for calling the police on the men because they had not ordered anything from the coffee shop.
.@Starbucks, whoever called the police in this instance needs to be fired. Same for any manager who failed to intervene. I am a very regular (and vocal!) customer, but if you don’t take robust action to address this racist incident I will have to drop my Starbucks habit. https://t.co/kmIlKysuvu
— Chris Stroop (@C_Stroop) April 14, 2018
We’re aware of the incident on Thursday in a Philadelphia store with 2 guests and law enforcement, resulting in their removal. We’re reviewing the incident with our partners, law enforcement and customers to determine what took place and led to this unfortunate result.
— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) April 14, 2018
Starbucks released a statement Friday that they were made aware of the incident and were “reviewing” the situation.
“We’re aware of the incident on Thursday in a Philadelphia store with 2 guests and law enforcement, resulting in their removal. We’re reviewing the incident with our partners, law enforcement and customers to determine what took place and led to this unfortunate result,” Starbucks said.
As outcry grew against the coffee company, Starbucks issued a second statement Saturday apologizing to the two men arrested:
We apologize to the two individuals and our customers and are disappointed this led to an arrest. We take these matters seriously and clearly have more work to do when it comes to how we handle incidents in our stores. We are reviewing out policies and will continue to engage with the community and the police department to try to ensure these types of situations never happen in any of our stores.
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson then released an additional statement saying that he would travel to Philadelphia in the coming days to rectify the situation and meet with the two arrested men.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross defended the officers, saying they “did absolutely nothing wrong” because they asked the men to leave three times for trespassing on Starbucks property and called the Starbucks supervisor before taking action.
“At about 4:40 p.m., police received a 911 call for a disturbance and trespass. When the police arrived they were met by Starbucks employees who said that two males were trespassing and had refused to leave the establishment,” Ross said in a statement delivered via Facebook Live.
“The police did not just happen upon this event — they did not just walk into Starbucks to get a coffee,” he added. “They were called there, for a service, and that service had to do with quelling a disturbance, a disturbance that had to do with trespassing. These officers did absolutely nothing wrong.”
The black men who were arrested have since been released because of “lack of evidence” that they had committed a crime, the district attorney’s office told the Associated Press. They have not been identified because neither of them has been charged with a crime.
The Philadelphia Police Department’s internal affairs unit and the Philadelphia mayor’s office are conducting separate investigations into the arrests in response to the outcry over the viral video of the incident making the rounds on social media.