Thursday at a press conference at Philadelphia Police headquarters, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross apologized for his earlier statement defending the police officers who arrested two African-American men, Donte Robinson and Rashan Nelson, at a Starbucks last week.
The men were arrested after the manager called 911 because they had not ordered a drink and did not leave when they were asked to.
Ross said, “I’m here to discuss the unfortunate incident that has been in the news about this great city, an incident that I fully acknowledge that I played a significant role in making it worse. For starters, I should have said the officers acted within the scope of the law and not that they didn’t do anything wrong. Words are very important.”
He continued, “While it is no excuse, my lack of awareness of the Starbucks business model played a role in my messaging. While this is apparently a well-known fact with Starbucks customers, not everyone is aware that people spend long hours in Starbucks and aren’t necessarily expected to make a purchase. I have had multiple discussions over the last few days and and it is a—I shouldn’t say a well known fact, but a wide spread belief, that everyone knows that about Starbucks. I am here to tell you that I did not and it is also reasonable to believe the officers didn’t know it either.”
He added, “I can appreciate, in light of the Starbucks policy and how well known it is to many, why these two men were appalled when they were asked to leave. For this reason, me, I apologize to them.”
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