Starbucks CEO apologizes for 'reprehensible' arrest of two black men

Alfred Osborne
April 18, 2018

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, chairman Howard Schultz, and other senior Starbucks leaders went to Philadelphia to meet with community leaders and Starbucks partners. He reached out to the men who had been handcuffed, hoping they could use the incident for a greater good. "This country was built on the backs of black and brown people and now Starbucks is going to treat us like we're second-class".

Q: Did you watch the video of the arrest?

Philadelphia officials have wrapped up a meeting with Starbucks executives to discuss the arrests of two black men who were denied use of a store's bathroom and refused to leave. This second day of protests kept the Starbucks store near Rittenhouse Square from opening to the public. "We don't want this Starbucks to make any money today".

However, Johnson pushed back on calls to fire the store manager, saying the blame "is misplaced" and repeatedly emphasizing that he was the one to be held accountable.

"What happened and the way that incident escalated, and the outcome, was nothing but reprehensible", he said in a video statement.

A longer video of the episode shows police talking with the men for at least four minutes before a white man, Andrew Yaffe, joins them. The customers said they were waiting for another man to arrive. A different attorney who had earlier represented them had described them as professionals in commercial real estate. She said watching the video of the arrest was painful.

"Why would they be asked to leave?" "Someone tell me what they did!"

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Philadelphia police commissioner Richard Ross, who is black, said police had received a 911 call from a Starbucks worker who said the men were trespassing, after sitting down and refusing to buy anything.

Charles Connelly is a regular customer at Starbucks in Erie, and says this incident is not a reflection on the entire company, "But obviously in this case, it was racism, let's cut the crap here, it was racism". "And that is what we're focused on".

The city says PCHR will also examine the company's policies to determine whether they are enforced uniformly, as well as how much discretion is left to individual employees.

On Sunday he tweeted, "Our city is shining bright like a diamond right now".

Seattle-based Starbucks had posted a statement on Twitter over the weekend about the arrests, followed by an apology from Johnson.

Brian Yarbrough, an equity analyst with Edward Jones, said the company might feel less of an impact on sales because Johnson took direct steps to address the episode, including expressing publicly that it was committed to investigating and conducting training.

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