clear
Friday September 21st, 2018 12:12AM

Starbucks CEO apologizes to 2 black men arrested

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Starbucks sells itself as a community gathering spot as much as a coffeehouse, a welcoming place with comfortable chairs for lingering, trendy music and Wi-Fi. That's one reason the arrest of two black men who were sitting in a Starbucks struck a nerve for so many: They were doing exactly what people do at most any of the chain's 28,000 stores worldwide.

The CEO of Starbucks Co., Kevin Johnson, called the arrests a "reprehensible outcome" and said he wants to personally apologize to the men, saying the company "stands firmly against discrimination or racial profiling." But that didn't stop protesters from gathering Sunday outside the store in downtown Philadelphia where the arrests occurred.

As people ordered coffee inside, the Rev. Jeffrey Jordan led a crowd of a couple dozen in chants of "I am somebody, and I demand equality now."

"It is a shame that (in) the year 2018 we're still putting up with this mess," said Jordan. "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."

In Washington, D.C., Gregory Wilkins usually visits one of three neighborhood Starbucks for about 45 minutes before work to read the paper with his coffee or smoke a cigarette at the outside tables. Wilkins, who is black, said he'd consider going elsewhere if something like the incident in Philadelphia occurred again.

"If nothing is done about what happened, then yeah," Wilkins, 56, said as he went into a Starbucks.

The arrests, which occurred Thursday, were captured on video that quickly gained traction on social media.

Video shows several police talking quietly with two black men seated at a table. After a few minutes, officers handcuff the men and lead them outside as other customers say they weren't doing anything wrong; Philadelphia-area media reported the two had been waiting for a friend.

Officers went to the store after Starbucks employees called 911 to report the men were trespassing, said Police Commissioner Richard Ross. He said officers were told the men had come in and asked to use the restroom but were denied because they hadn't bought anything. He said they then refused to leave.

Johnson's statement didn't address exactly what led to the police call, but a Starbucks spokeswoman said the store where the arrests occurred has a policy that restrooms are for paying customers only. In the video, no Starbucks items are visible in front of either of the men.

Robert Passikoff, the president of a New York-based consulting firm that researches brand loyalty, said companies like Starbucks are in a tough spot as they attempt to operate both as both community centers and places where people are expected to make a purchase.

"Companies have gone out of their way to establish the kind of emotional bonds and product delivery that they think is going to build engagement and loyalty and, ultimately, profits," said Passikoff, of Brand Keys Inc. "But today the consumer decides what is right. They have become magnets for social experiences, in the broad sense of 'social,' but not in the sense that 'Oh, I need to buy something.'"

Johnson said the company's practices and training led to a "bad outcome," and the reason for the call that brought police into the shop was incorrect.

"Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did," said his statement. Johnson said videos of the arrest were "very hard to watch," and the company was investigating.

Johnson said the company would further train workers on when to call police and host a company-wide meeting to "underscore our long-standing commitment to treating one another with respect and dignity."

Police haven't released the names of the men who were arrested. A spokesman for the district attorney's office said the two were released "because of lack of evidence" that a crime had been committed, but declined further comment, citing a police investigation.

At the protest, Wendy Mial vowed to never enter another Starbucks. Mial, 53, said she was "devastated" by the arrests and urged the small crowd not to the "choose the wrong enemy."

"The enemy, in some ways, is ourselves," she said. "Look how few people are here today. Who's not outraged about this?"

___

Reeves reported from Birmingham, Alabama. Associated Press writer Chris Rugaber in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News
© Copyright 2018 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
In Peru for summit, Pence offers support for Syrian strike
Vice President Mike Pence has wrapped up his trip to a summit of Latin American leaders
8:46AM ( 9 minutes ago )
The Latest: Trump tweets defense of 'Mission Accomplished'
President Donald Trump is defending his use of the phrase "mission accomplished" to refer to the U.S.-led strikes in Syria
8:42AM ( 14 minutes ago )
Flights canceled, roads treacherous amid spring snowstorms
Flights canceled, roadways treacherous as deadly storm system stretching from Gulf Coast to Great Lakes hits central US with heavy snow, wind and rain
8:40AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Montenegro votes for next president; favorite is pro-West
Voters in Montenegro are casting ballots in a presidential election, with former Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic expected to win after his party defied Russia taking the small Balkan nation into NATO last year
7:10AM ( 1 hour ago )
Martin Sorrell steps down as CEO of advertising giant WPP
Martin Sorrell is stepping down as chief executive of WPP, the world's largest advertising agency, following allegations of personal misconduct
6:33AM ( 2 hours ago )
France urges Russia to join peace push after Syria strike
France is urging Russia to join a push for a political solution in Syria after joint U.S., French and British attacks on Syrian chemical weapons sites
4:54AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP National News
The Latest: Parts of Midwest buried under late-season snow
Flights grounded in Minneapolis and South Dakota, hundreds of vehicle crashes reported across Midwest as deadly storm system sweeps across central U.S.
11:40PM ( 9 hours ago )
Storm blasts central US with snow, ice and wind, killing 3
Airports, roads closed as deadly storm system stretching from Gulf Coast to Great Lakes buffets central US with heavy snow, wind and rain
11:32PM ( 9 hours ago )
Teacher rebellion tests Republican grip on Kentucky
A teacher rebellion in Kentucky is testing the Republican party's grip on the state
7:56PM ( 13 hours ago )
Top U.S. News short headlines
Red Bull's Ricciardo wins Chinese Grand Prix; 6th career win
Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull won Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix to claim the sixth victory of his Formula One career
6:50AM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: Aide: Pence left Summit before Cuban FM spoke
Vice President Mike Pence's office says the vice president walked out of the Summit of the Americas when Cuba's foreign minister was recognized to speak after him
2:06AM ( 6 hours ago )
Certain of gas attack, allies struck Syria before UN report
The United States, Britain and France decided to strike Syria for its apparent use of chemical weapons without waiting for a report from U.N. inspectors
9:07PM ( 11 hours ago )
AP Business
AP investigation: Doctors keep licenses despite sex abuse
An Associated Press investigation finds that even as Hollywood moguls, elite journalists and politicians have been pushed out of their jobs or resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct, the world of medicine is more forgiving.
10:53AM ( 22 hours ago )
Panama president: Trump company letter on hotel a mistake
Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela says Trump Organization lawyers made a mistake by sending a letter to his office in which they appealed for the leader's help in a fight over the control of a luxury hotel
8:35PM ( 1 day ago )
How Facebook ads target you
Facebook's business depends almost entirely on selling ads targeted at people with particular interests and demographics
6:23PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Corporate News
In Peru for summit, Pence offers support for Syrian strike
Vice President Mike Pence has wrapped up his trip to a summit of Latin American leaders
8:46AM ( 9 minutes ago )
The Latest: Trump tweets defense of 'Mission Accomplished'
President Donald Trump is defending his use of the phrase "mission accomplished" to refer to the U.S.-led strikes in Syria
8:42AM ( 14 minutes ago )
Flights canceled, roads treacherous amid spring snowstorms
Flights canceled, roadways treacherous as deadly storm system stretching from Gulf Coast to Great Lakes hits central US with heavy snow, wind and rain
8:40AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Huge rally in Barcelona to demand jailed separatists go free
Hundreds of thousands of Catalan separatists rallied in downtown Barcelona to demand the release of high-profile secessionist leaders being held in pre-trial detention
8:32AM ( 24 minutes ago )
Pope 'deeply disturbed' by lack of common response to Syria
Pope Francis says he is "deeply disturbed" by the international community's failure to come up with a common response to the crisis in Syria and other parts of the world
8:30AM ( 26 minutes ago )