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Posted: April 16, 2018

Starbucks manager leaves company after controversial arrest of 2 black men

Starbucks CEO Says He Wants To Apologize To Men Arrested In Philadelphia Store

By Theresa Seiger, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

PHILADELPHIA -- The Starbucks manager who came under fire after calling 911 last week to report that two black men who were inside the store were trespassing has left the company, officials told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

>> Read more trending news

A company spokeswoman told the Inquirer Monday that the decision was “mutual.”

The arrests, at the Starbucks at 18th and Spruce streets in Philadelphia, sparked outrage and questions of racial bias after video of the encounter was posted to social media.

Photos posted to social media appeared to show the store closed Monday after about two dozen protesters stood by the coffee shop’s counter, chanting “Starbucks coffee is anti-black,” according to The Associated Press.

More than 100 people protested outside the shop Sunday, calling for the manager’s dismissal.

Ron Todt/AP
Protesters gather outside a Starbucks in Philadelphia, Sunday, April 15, 2018, where two black men were arrested Thursday after Starbucks employees called police to say the men were trespassing. The arrest prompted accusations of racism on social media. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson posted a lengthy statement Saturday night, calling the situation "disheartening" and that it led to a "reprehensible" outcome. (AP Photo/Ron Todt)

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson apologized for the incident in a statement Saturday and pledged to investigate. He said Monday on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that he plans to meet with Philadelphia’s mayor and police. He said he also hopes to meet with the two men who were arrested, who have not been identified.

“Starbucks stands firmly against discrimination or racial profiling,” Johnson said Saturday.

Police Commissioner Richard Ross said Saturday that employees told officers the two men arrested Thursday were asked to leave after they tried to use the Starbucks’ bathroom without making a purchase first. The men were not charged.


Related

Starbucks' CEO wants to apologize 'face-to-face' to 2 black men arrested at Philly store

The CEO of Starbucks said he wanted to meet personally and “offer a face-to-face apology” to the two black men arrested at a Philadelphia store Thursday, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Sunday.

>> Read more trending news

In a statement posted late Saturday, CEO Kevin Johnson called the actions at the Philadelphia Starbucks a “reprehensible outcome.”

“The video shot by customers is very hard to watch and the actions in it are not representative of our Starbucks mission and values,” Johnson wrote in the statement.

A protest of the store at 18th and Spruce streets in Philadelphia took place early Sunday afternoon with more than 100 people outside the store. A “Shut Down Starbucks!”protest was scheduled at the venue Monday morning, the Inquirer reported.

The arrest of the two black men sparked outrage on social media and led to a police investigation after a video of the incident went viral.

A video posted Thursday by Melissa DePino on YouTube shows police talking to the men for several minutes. Officers then handcuffed the men and escorted them out of the store. 

DePino said that "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."

In a video posted to Facebook on Saturday, police Commissioner Richard Ross confirmed DePino’s observation and said officers responded to a 911 call for a disturbance at the store. Ross said police were told the men asked to use the restroom but had not ordered anything, a violation of Starbucks’ policy. They were asked to leave and refused to do so, Ross said in the video.

“The police did not just happen upon this event -- they did not just walk into Starbucks to get a coffee,” Ross said in his video. “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.”

Johnson addressed the Starbucks policy in his statement.

“Regretfully, our practices and training led to a bad outcome -- the basis for the call to the Philadelphia police department was wrong,” Johnson wrote. “Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did.”

>> Video showing arrest of 2 black men at Starbucks sparks outrage

In DePino’s video, a white man, identified by the Inquirer as Andrew Yaffe, a Philadelphia real estate investor, is seen questioning an officer about the arrest. He said the men were waiting to meet him, the Inquirer reported.

“What did they get called for, because there were two black guys sitting here, meeting me?” Yaffe said in the video. “What did they do?”

WPVI reported that an eyewitness named Lauren -- who declined to give her full name -- said a manager made the situation worse by calling police instead of asking the men to buy something or leave. 

After the men had been “quietly hanging out, chatting and waiting for their friend," Lauren said officers entered the restaurant and asked the two men to leave, saying that they would be trespassing if they remained in the store.

"The two young men politely asked why they were being told to leave and were not given a reason other than the manager wanted them to leave," Lauren told WPVI in an email.

The men said they were waiting for a friend and offered to call him, Lauren told WPVI.

“The two men stayed calm and did not raise their voices once. Everyone else in the Starbucks, however, was appalled," she told the television station.

The men were released from custody at 12:30 a.m. Friday, according to Lauren Wimmer, an attorney representing them pro bono, Wimmer declined to identify the two men, the Inquirer reported. It is not clear whether Wimmer was the woman named Lauren who was interviewed by WPVI.

Johnson said Starbucks has “immediately begun a thorough investigation of our practices.”

“In addition to our own review, we will work with outside experts and community leaders to understand and adopt best practices,” Johnson wrote.

Sunday’s protest was organized by Black Lives Matter activist Asa Khalif, the Inquirer reported. Khalif said Johnson’s apology was “about saving face,” the Inquirer reported.

Video showing arrest of two black men at Starbucks sparks outrage

The arrest of two men at a Starbucks in Philadelphia this week has sparked outrage on social media and led to a police investigation after a video of the incident went viral.

>> Read more trending news 

A video clip posted on YouTube Thursday show police talking to two black men for several minutes, then handcuffing them and escorting them off the premises. 

Melissa DePino, who took the video, said, "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."

A witness can be heard on the video calling the arrest "ridiculous." 

The video has been viewed more than 3 million times. 

Starbucks released a statement Saturday, apologizing for the incident.

Starbucks' CEO Kevin Johnson told The Associated Press that he wanted to apologize personally to the two men. 

Johnson called the situation "disheartening" and that it led to a "reprehensible" outcome, the AP reported.

Police are conducting an internal investigation. On Saturday, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross told The Associated Press his officers did nothing wrong. Ross claims Starbucks employees called police to say two men were trespassing, after the men’s request to use the bathroom was denied because they had not made a purchase. Ross said that the men were asked three times to leave and refused, at which point they were arrested.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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