Philadelphia mayor orders review of Starbucks policies after arrest of 2 men sparks outrage
The mayor of Philadelphia has ordered a city commission to review policies at Starbucks after the arrest of two black men prompted social media users to accuse the company of racial discrimination.
A video of two black men being arrested in a Philadelphia Starbucks has gone viral, prompting a response from the coffee giant and an internal investigation within the Philadelphia Police Department.
Mayor Jim Kenney said Saturday he was “heartbroken” to see the city in the headlines for an incident that appears at this point “to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018.”
Kenney added that he’s asked the Commission on Human Relations to examine the company’s policies and procedures “including the extent of, or need for, implicit bias training for its employees.”
The clip was captured by bystander Melissa DePino, who then posted the video on Twitter, and a longer cut on YouTube. Since Thursday evening, the video has received over two million views, picketers outside that Starbucks location and reactions from high-profile advocates for racial equality.
“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. All the other white ppl are wondering why it’s never happened to us when we do the same thing,” the video’s caption reads.
The video depicts police officers arresting two black men, and appear to be removing them from the restaurant. At the scene, other customers appear to be distressed at the situation, and ask the officers why the men were being forced to leave.
WATCH: Starbucks Chief Executive Kevin Johnson is apologizing for the arrests of two black men at a Philadelphia coffee shop last week
According to DePino, police were called because the men had yet to place an order, but were waiting for friends to show up. According to her caption, their friends showed up as they were taken out of the restaurant in handcuffs.
In the video, the friend they were meeting can be heard asking the officers about the situation.
“What did they get called for?” he asked. “Because there are two black guys sitting here meeting me? Tell me, what did they do?” One person off-camera chimed in, “They didn’t do anything. I saw the entire thing.”
Starbucks eventually responded to the incident on Twitter, saying they were reviewing the incident to “determine what took place and led to this unfortunate result.”
Starbucks later issued a more thorough apology on its Twitter account, saying that they “take these matters seriously and clearly have more work to do when it comes to how we handle incidents in our stores.”
The company’s CEO Kevin Johnson said in a statement that he wants to meet with the men to offer an apology.
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.
Philadelphia police also tweeted out late Friday night that they were aware of what took place and were conducting an internal investigation, though according to ABC News, the DA has declined charges due to a lack of evidence that a crime took place.
The city’s police commissioner defended the arrests, saying employees said the men wanted to use the restroom but were denied because they hadn’t bought anything. He says they repeatedly refused to leave.
The two men have since been released from police custody. Neither Starbucks nor police would comment on what led to the arrests.
-With files from the Associated Press.
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