Additional details are still coming about the incident in which a Starbucks manager called law enforcement officials on two black men who had not placed an order.
One witness, identified as Lauren, talked to Philadelphia’s WPVI and said the Starbucks manager never asked the men to leave before calling police. Other witnesses present when the incident took place Thursday said at least one of the two men asked for the bathroom code and were denied because they didn’t make a purchase.
“Lauren said another woman had entered the Starbucks minutes before the men were arrested and was given the bathroom code without having to buy anything and that another person in the restaurant at the time of the incident ‘announced that she had been sitting at Starbucks for the past couple of hours without buying anything,’” WPVI’s Danny Clemens reported.
After the #BoycottStarbucks hashtag started gaining steam, the coffeehouse chain issued an apology to the two men arrested.
We regret that our practices and training led to the reprehensible outcome at our Philadelphia store. We’re taking immediate action to learn from this and be better. A statement from ceo Kevin Johnson: https://t.co/kPav8bEeOX— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) April 15, 2018
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross also weighed in on the matter via a Facebook video, which you can view below. Ross corroborated the manager’s account of the men being asked to leave, although witness accounts from Lauren and others cast doubt on if the manager bothered to directly ask the men to leave before calling the police.
“Three different occasions, the officers asked the males to politely leave the location because they were being asked to leave because they were trespassing,” Ross said. “Instead the males continued to refuse, as they had told the employees previously. And they told the officers that they were not leaving.”
Multiple Twitter users who saw the original incident and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney were quick to point out that people often use Starbucks as “not just a place to buy a cup of coffee, but a place to meet up with friends or family members.”
#NEW: An extensive statement from @PhillyMayor Jim Kenney on the alleged racial incident at a #CenterCity @Starbucks in which two black men were removed from the store by @PhillyPolice after a police call was made. @FOX29philly pic.twitter.com/LISy3PiIAA— DaveKinchenTV 🇺🇸🌎 (@DKinchenFOX29) April 14, 2018
Because the police had been called, I’m guessing the least they had to do is ask these gentlemen to leave. But why arrest them? Why embarrass them by placing handcuffs on them? I have seen plenty of officers de-escalate situations like these. https://t.co/2aIKIo1K2T— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) April 15, 2018
That’s another question I’d like to be answered. I get responding to the complaint but they took every step afterward as if the intention was to prosecute to the fullest extent. The fact that this even crossed a prosecutor’s desk is mind blowing. https://t.co/Bbyan5RJIJ— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) April 15, 2018
This month I noticed this (possibly homeless) woman sleeping @Starbucks in Bethesda, MD; I chatted with manager about her situation. Good to know she was treated as a human being. She wasn’t arrested. I’m a loyal customer looking for your response to #Waitingwhileblack pic.twitter.com/ZqMCpmngsS— Deitre Epps (@Deitre_Epps) April 14, 2018
And while Ross said his officers were following policy, the incident begs the question of if the arresting officers could have de-escalated the situation without removing the men in handcuffs. Additionally, accounts from Lauren and others give the impression Starbucks may not be uniformly enforcing its trespassing policy.