This weekend, a video clip has gone viral showcasing two men of color having the cops called on them by a Starbucks employee. Their alleged crime or wrongdoing? According to witnesses, the men were taken out in handcuffs because they hadn't ordered anything while "waiting for a friend" to show up.
The company has issued a statement of apology after the incident, which took place in a Philadelphia location, was brought to their attention. The statement reads in part: "We take these matters seriously and clearly have more work to do when it comes to how we handle incidents in our stores."
With social media reactions gaining steam online as more and more people become aware of what happened, both the mayor of Philadelphia and the police chief have issued conflicting statements. Police Commissioner Richard Ross is defending the actions of the officers, who responded to a 911 call reporting a trespassing complaint.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has expressed that he feels Starbucks' apology "is not enough," adding that he is "heartbroken to see Philadelphia in the headlines for an incident like that," which he says "appears to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018."
Additionally, Kenney said that he has "asked the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations to examine the firm's polices and procedures, including the extent of, or need for, implicit bias training for its employees."
As Twitter users respond to news of the incident, many are utilizing the hashtag #BoycottStarbucks, while others are pointing out how the incident exemplifies both how racial profiling commonly still happens in this country and how some non-POC often turn a blind eye to the reality of the situation, all while calling for change and awareness regarding how to combat this problem moving forward.
Take a look at the video clip and see how folks are reacting, below.
@Starbucks 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. pic.twitter.com/0U4Pzs55Ci— Melissa DePino (@missydepino) April 12, 2018
I just heard they were released at 130am last night. They are real estate brokers and were at Starbucks to meet their family friend. That’s all I have for now.— Melissa DePino (@missydepino) April 13, 2018
Ever since I posted this, I’ve had white strangers AND friends say “there must be something more to this story.” That assumption is a big part of the problem. It does happen. All the time. Just not to you and me. Believe it and speak up.— Melissa DePino (@missydepino) April 13, 2018
We apologize to the two individuals and our customers for what took place at our Philadelphia store on Thursday. pic.twitter.com/suUsytXHks— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) April 14, 2018
Dear Starbucks,— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) April 14, 2018
Calling the police to arrest two black guys just for being there is not an “incident.” It’s racism at its ugliest level. And it should have no place in America.
Starbucks: we “apologize” but will probably keep calling the police to arrest black people for no reason— Samuel Sinyangwe (@samswey) April 14, 2018
Police: we’ll keep arresting black people for no reason, and think there’s “nothing wrong” with that.
Some people think there is no such thing as racial profiling. That it is made-up or an exaggeration. It’s not. This type of thing still happens in America. People get arrested for doing nothing...but being black or being Hispanic.@Starbucks, you got some explaining to do. https://t.co/f1yo8akksW— Ana Navarro-Cárdenas (@ananavarro) April 14, 2018
This is an example of saying a lot but saying nothing. Who called the cops, why did they call the cops, why were the black men targeted for minding their business. I have been to starbucks all over the country 50% of people there not doing nothing but chilling. Need better answer https://t.co/SdfDHSxK0C— Robert Littal (@BSO) April 14, 2018
WTF? Problem, Blacks, especially Black men, are perceived as a menace. These men weren’t in a bank lobby waiting for a friend. They were in a damn Starbucks...THE “meet me” spot in America. https://t.co/ieB0L3uvhb— Wanda Sykes (@iamwandasykes) April 14, 2018
“Starbucking while black” it’s a thing now https://t.co/HdyYMjxqrK— Bakari Sellers (@Bakari_Sellers) April 14, 2018
“When the anonymous black person enters the white space, others there immediately try to make sense of him or her—to figure out “who that is,” or to gain a sense of the nature of the person’s business and whether they need to be concerned.” - Elijah Anderson, “The White Space” https://t.co/i3F7gg6cNC— b-boy bouiebaisse (@jbouie) April 13, 2018
I'm sorry for anyone who watches this video and it fucks with their anxiety. There's no violence or death–just yet another caught-on-tape moment of black bodies being criminalized simply for being Black and I'm getting so fucking tired of it. https://t.co/qw77GAgaaO— Elon James White (@elonjames) April 13, 2018