Starbucks, which once asked baristas to start a conversation about race with customers, faces fierce criticism after two black men were arrested at a Philadelphia store, sparking accusations of racial profiling over what the company’s chief executive now calls a “reprehensible” incident.
In a statement, CEO Kevin Johnson offered “our deepest apologies” on Saturday to the two men who were taken out of the store in handcuffs by at least six officers on Thursday. A store manager had asked the two men to leave after they attempted to use the bathroom but had not made any purchases, police said. The men said they were waiting for a friend, their attorney later said. The manager then called 911 for assistance, the company said.
The police confrontation was captured on a video that has been viewed more than 8 million times on social media, fueling a backlash and drawing responses from the city’s police commissioner and mayor.
“I am heartbroken to see Philadelphia in the headlines for an incident that — at least based on what we know at this point — appears to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018,” Mayor Jim Kenney, a Democrat, said.
The two men were taken to a police station, where they were fingerprinted and photographed, their attorney Lauren Wimmer told The Washington Post on Saturday. Her clients, who declined to be identified, were released eight hours later because the district attorney found no evidence of a crime, she said, adding the Starbucks manager was white.