Being Black in America: how arriving 10 minutes early to a business meeting puts you in handcuffs.
On April 12, 2018 — Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, were arrested at a Starbucks in downtown Philadelphia. The two men arrived early for a business meeting, and were waiting for the person they had planned to meet with.
It was reported that Nelson had asked to use the restroom and was told by a manager that they were only for paying customers. Shortly following this brief exchange, the same manager approached both Nelson and Robinson at their table, asked if they wanted to order drinks, and both respectfully declined. According to 911 records, the police were called approximately two minutes after the men entered the store. When police did arrive Robinson thought “they can’t be here for us. We’re doing nothing.” Nelson continued “As soon as they approached us, they just said we have to leave.”
@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
Robinson said they were put in double lock handcuffs, were not read their rights and received no explanation as to why they were being arrested. It was later said that the men were arrested on suspicion of trespassing.
Nelson and Robinson, both appeared on “Good Morning America” following the incident. Nelson said he hoped the incident would inspire black people. He wanted to “take this opportunity as a stepping stone to really stand up and show your greatness and that you are not judged by the color of your skin as our ancestors were or anyone else. He added, “This is not just a black people thing, it’s a people thing.” Nelson continued. “That’s exactly what we want to see out of this, true change.”
FULL INTERVIEW: “This is something that has been going on for years…everyone is blind to it.”
— Good Morning America (@GMA) April 19, 2018
The scene was recorded in a video that has been viewed more than 11 million times on Twitter. The arrest has led to protests and plans for bias training at thousands of the chain’s locations. The arrests prompted a #BoycottStarbucks campaign.
This is Holly Hylton, the racist Starbucks manager that called the police and had two innocent black men arrested for no reason at a Starbucks in Philadelphia! Call the Corporate office at 1-800-782-7282 and demand that she be fired!!! #BoycottStarbucks pic.twitter.com/ooHy9a11nu
— Dave Jones (@kemba722) April 15, 2018
Racism is a systemic issue at Starbucks. Just because a company seems liberal and progressive, it does not mean they are immune from being flagrantly racist. #BoycottStarbucks pic.twitter.com/YTMhJpykZ9
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) April 16, 2018
Black coffee for black justice demanded and served at Starbucks. pic.twitter.com/kQqFBQZbqs
— DESUS & MERO (@desusandmero) April 20, 2018
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the manager of the Philly establishment has left the company. As the company continues to make necessary amends, Starbucks plans to close all of its company owned locations in the U.S., about 8,000 of them, during the afternoon of May 29th to conduct a racial bias education program. Starbucks CEO, Kevin Johnson apologized for the incident on several media outlets, making it clear that the entire corporation is learning from what was done wrong and taking the steps to fix it. Johnson released an official video, on behalf of Starbucks, making it clear that “The company’s founding values are based on humanity and inclusion; we will learn from our mistakes and reaffirm our commitment to creating a safe and welcoming environment for every customer.”
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
The training will apply to nearly 175,000 U.S employees and the curriculum will be designed by nationally recognized experts, geared to prevent discrimination in stores. This training will also available for other companies to use.
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