Two Black Men Were Arrested At Starbucks. The CEO Is Now Calling For ‘unconscious Bias’ Training.

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson during a Bloomberg Television interview at the GeekWire Summit in Seattle on Oct. 10, 2017. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Mike Kane.

The chief executive of Starbucks on Monday called for “unconscious bias” training for store managers and apologized for what he called “reprehensible” circumstances that led to the arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia store last week.

Kevin Johnson said in an interview on “Good Morning America” that the company was reviewing the actions of the store manager who had called the police. Johnson said that “what happened to those two gentlemen was wrong.”

“My responsibility is to look not only to that individual but look more broadly at the circumstances that set that up just to ensure that never happens again,” the executive told interviewer Robin Roberts.

Johnson is expected to meet with the two men, the company said. Exactly when the meeting would take place was not immediately clear.

Protests continued Monday at the Starbucks where the men were arrested. People initially gathered outside but were driven inside by heavy rains. “Good Morning America” described the protests inside the Starbucks as “a stand-in.”

At about 6 a.m. Monday, a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter tweeted that roughly 40 protesters were at the Starbucks in a relatively upscale neighborhood of the city. One person in the crowd hoisted a sign that read, “Is she fired or nah?” – a reference to the store manager who called the police. Others chanted, “Anti-blackness anywhere is anti-blackness everywhere.”

Starbucks said later Monday that the store manager “is no longer at that store.”

Just before 1 p.m., a reporter tweeted a photo of a sign outside the Starbucks that said the location was temporarily closed.

Rosalind Brewer, Starbucks’ chief operating officer, talked about the company’s call for unconscious bias training for store managers in a morning interview with NPR and called the incident a “teachable moment for all of us.” She said that as an African American executive with a 23-year-old son, she found the cellphone videos taken of the Thursday afternoon incident painful to watch.

“It would be easy for us to say that this was a one-employee situation, but I have to tell you, it’s time for us to, myself included, take personal responsibility here and do the best that we can to make sure we do everything we can,” Brewer told NPR.

At least two cellphone videos captured the tense moment when at least six Philadelphia police officers stood over two seated black men, asking them to leave. One officer said that the men were not complying and were being arrested for trespassing.

“Why would they be asked to leave?” Andrew Yaffe asked on a video. Yaffe runs a real estate development firm and wanted to discuss business investment opportunities with the two men. “Does anybody else think this is ridiculous?” he asked people nearby. “It’s absolute discrimination.”

The two unidentified men were taken out in handcuffs soon after. They were held for nearly nine hours before being released, said Lauren Wimmer, an attorney who represented the men over the weekend. No charges were filed, authorities said.

One of the videos of the arrest rocketed across social media, with more than 9 million views by Monday morning.

Benjamin Waxman, a spokesman for Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, said over the weekend that the office decided that there “wasn’t sufficient evidence to charge [the men] with a crime.”

Johnson said Monday morning that there are scenarios that warrant a call to police – including threats and other disturbances – but that in this case, “it was completely inappropriate to engage the police.”

The police were criticized for their handling of the situation. On Monday, the department referred to the police commissioner’s Facebook Live video from Saturday. Commissioner Richard Ross said in the video that one or both of the men asked to use the restroom but had not purchased anything. An employee said Starbucks company policy was to refuse the use of the bathrooms to non-customers and asked the men to leave, according to Ross. The employee called the police when they refused.

“These officers did absolutely nothing wrong. They followed policy; they did what they were supposed to do. They were professional in all their dealings with these gentlemen,” Ross said in the video. “And instead, they got the opposite back.” Ross said police arrested the men after they refused three requests to leave.

Ross, who is black, said he was aware of issues of implicit bias – unconscious discrimination based on race – but did not say whether he believed it applied in this case. He said the incident underscores the need for more body-worn cameras to present different perspectives of police responses. The officers were not wearing cameras, he said.

Starbucks does not have a companywide policy on asking members of the public to leave, a company official said. The company leaves safety and customer service protocol decisions up to store managers, said a company official who declined to give a name to freely describe internal discussions. Managers may leave restroom doors unlocked or add key-code entries if they feel the store is more at risk of criminal behavior. A store in the same area of Philadelphia was hit with an armed robbery recently, the official said.

The Starbucks official acknowledged that the incident is at odds with a common practice at Starbucks. The stores are “community” hubs, the official said, where people often drop in to use the WiFi or chat with friends without necessarily buying anything.

Wimmer, the attorney who represented the two men, said she spent a good portion of her time in law school in Starbucks without buying much and never had a problem with store employees. The incident was about race, Wimmer, who is white, said. She suggested an experiment: Go to a Starbucks and assess the demographics of people sitting there.

“Who is the manager going to call and say, ‘Please leave?’ ” she asked.

(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Rachel Siegel, Alex Horton 



  1. Here are the key questions for this case:
    1) Were the men treated wrongly?
    2) Would they have been treated differently if they were white?
    3) How would we feel if two members of the our (frum) community were treated the same way in the same circumstances?

    • 1: No
      2: No way to know, but probably not.
      3: I would feel the same way. They were not allowed to use the bathroom, because they were not paying customers, and that is the policy of Starbucks. They became combative and refused to leave when asked by employees. That is Trespassing. The police came, asked them politely several times to leave, and they refused and started arguing with the cops. Trespassing and refusing to leave is a crime, and they were therefore arrested. Completely fine and 100% legit.

      • What would an article be about police brutality without “Nyob” jumping in to defend the cops no matter what? He makes up his own facts just to kiss up to cops. If he would of taken the time to watch the video, he would of seen the 2 innocent African Americans acting very calm. They were not resisting arrest at all. I think nyob was really hoping the rogue cops would of pulled out their revolvers and blown these 2 men away. Nyob’s love for cops will end rather quickly the next time HE has an incident with them.

        • What are you talking about? The only thing I disagree with him about is the term “combative” – I’d say they were “argumentative” or simply “refused to leave”.

          Furthermore, what do you propose the cops should’ve done differently? As the police chief explained, they had no choice but to ask the men to leave, which they did politely yet firmly multiple times. Once the men refused, they had no choice but to arrest them. Any and all taynos should be against Starbucks, not the police.

          FWIW, IMO Starbucks was within their rights, but they were awfully petty in kicking out and humiliating those men and then calling the cops on them.

          • You are right anonymous, argumentative is a better word. As for “living in fear of the police”- So ignoring the first three lines of baseless accusations, I did watch the video. I never said they were resisting arrest, I said they didn’t respond to a lawful order given by police. Even if they were completely calm and nice throughout the whole situation, not leaving a property when requested to do so by employees or the owner is a crime. End of story. And I don’t have incidents with cops because I follow the law and I am not confrontational with law enforcement. I have no problem with civil disagreements, but could you leave out the lying and maybe not accuse me of rooting for murder next time?

  2. Facts as reported!
    They asked to use the bathroom, the employees told them “the store policy is, bathrooms are only for customers”. The 2 spoiled thugs refused to leave, cops were called and asked them to leave, they refused!
    Cops arrested.

    Only a sick lib who is infected with the LIBERAL CANCER can conclude from this that his employees need unconscious bias/races training!!!!

  3. I know that when I enter an establishment to use the bathroom, I respectfully ask them if I can use it. If they say no, I buy something, and then use the bathroom. very simple. follow the rules of the establishment. the only discrimination that I see here is possibly they were refused the bathroom because they were black, looked gangsta and were disrespectful and acted entitled. just another reason for protests. let them hook up with the violent peleg guys!

  4. New Starbucks Policy: Any black man committing a crime shall be addressed as Sir. For example: Sir, where would you like me to place the cash? Sir, would you like a coffee while you rob our establishment? Sick liberals!!!


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