- Starbucks faced intense backlash on Saturday after a viral video showed police arresting two black men in a Philadelphia store, while bystanders argued the men “didn’t do anything.”
- Starbucks apologised on Saturday and said the company plans to review its policies.
- The commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department said the officers “did absolutely nothing wrong,” and had legal standing to arrest the men for trespassing.
Starbucks apologised on Saturday amid a wave of online backlash over a viral video that showed police arresting two black men inside a Philadelphia store while bystanders protested that the men “didn’t do anything.”
The video, posted by Twitter user Melissa DePino, shows several police officers handcuffing the two men and leading them out of the store, while one person who said he was meeting the two men repeatedly asks, “What did they do?”
At one point, one officer can be seen telling the man that police received a call from the store. The man replies, “What did they get called for? That there are two black guys sitting there meeting me?”
Another bystander responds, “They didn’t do anything. I saw the entire thing.”
Watch the video below:
@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 coffee giant released a statement via Twitter that said the company plans to review its policies to ensure the incident doesn’t happen again.
“We apologise to the two individuals and our customers and are disappointed this led to an arrest,” the statement read. “We take these matters seriously and clearly have more work to do when it comes to how we handle incidents in our stores.”
But Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross pushed back against the perception that the officers had no cause for arrest – he said Saturday that the officers “did absolutely nothing wrong” and had legal standing to arrest the men.
Ross said that officers had been called to the store by Starbucks employees, who complained that the men were trespassing.
Ross said the men had asked Starbucks employees to use the restroom, and the employees had declined, citing company policy that prohibits non-paying members of the public from using the restrooms.
The men then refused to leave the store at the employees’ request, prompting the call to police, according to Ross. He added that the officers who arrived asked the men to leave three times, and the men continued to refuse.
“[The officers] 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,” Ross said in a video posted to the department’s Facebook page.
“I will say that as an African-American man, I am very aware of implicit bias. We are committed to fair and unbiased policing, and anything less than that will not be tolerated in this department.”
Ross said the men were ultimately released from the police station after Starbucks “was no longer interested in prosecuting.” But a spokesman for District Attorney Larry Krasner told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the men were released “because of lack of evidence” of a crime.