It was in the middle of April in the neighbourhood of Rittenhouse Square, one of the wealthiest areas of Philadelphia, where two black men were arrested at a local Starbucks for sitting there and not ordering anything. According to the CBC, the two men were denied entry to the washroom because they weren’t paying customers and when asked the leave the restaurant the two men refused. The manager of Starbucks then proceeded to call the police and the men were later arrested.
Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were the two 23-year-old men who were arrested while sitting at a table waiting for a business meeting. They had yet to order a drink when the manager called the police. Since then a video which was recorded by a fellow customer, Melissa DePino, has since gone viral.
In an interview done with ABC News, Melissa said that the men had done nothing wrong and were sitting at a table when police put them in handcuffs and took them away.
In a report done by ABC News, the Starbucks manager called 911 and was recorded saying: ‘I have two gentlemen at my cafe that are refusing to make a purchase or leave.’ The taped audio which was released by police showed the call being made around 4:37 pm and within minutes police arrived at the 18th and Spruce Street location.
According to the audiotape, after the police arrived, an additional officer and supervisor were also requested. It was around 5 pm when police radioed back saying that they would transport the two arrested men to police headquarters. During an interview with the Associated Press, the two men reported that they feared for their lives.
Starbucks later announced that the manager has since been fired and that all eight thousand locations in the United States will shut down for several hours on May 29 to conduct a racial-bias education seminar for approximately 175,000 employees.
Since then, the CEO of Starbucks, Kevin Johnson has issued a video apology to the two men and has said that Starbucks is ‘committed to being part of the solution’ and that the seminar ‘is just one step in a journey that requires dedication from every level of our company and partnerships in our local communities.’
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