Last month a video of two men being arrested for waiting at a Philadelphia Starbucks went viral. Rather than pursue a lawsuit against the city Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson have settled for $1 each and a $200,000 for a program for young entrepreneurs.
“We thought long and hard about it, and we feel like this is the best way to see that change that we want to see,” Robinson told Associated Press. “It’s not a right-now thing that’s good for right now, but I feel like we will see the true change over time.”
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenny said that Nelson and Robinson approached the city as partners “to make something positive come from this.”
“This was an incident that evoked a lot of pain in our city, pain that would’ve resurfaced over and over again in protracted litigation, which presents significant legal risks and high financial and emotional costs for everyone involved,” Kenney said in a statement.
On April 12, Nelson and Robinson were at a Starbucks waiting for a third man for a meeting. According to the men, they arrived at Starbucks at 4:35 p.m. for the 4:45 business meeting. Nelson reportedly asked to use the restroom immediately upon entering the building. The manager declined, stating that the restrooms were for paying customers.
The same manager approached Nelson and Robinson at their table to ask if the men if they would like any drinks or water. Police were called at 4:37, two minutes after the pair had arrived. “Two gentlemen in my cafe that are refusing to make a purchase or leave,” the manager told the police.
According to the tapes released by Philadelphia police, the officers arrived at 4:41. As the police were making their arrest, the man Nelson and Robinson were waiting for arrived. Andrew Yaffe told the police that Nelson and Robinson men were waiting for him. Police responded that the two were being arrested for being non-compliant and trespassing.
As a result, the arrest of Nelson and Robinson sparked a heated debate over racial profiling in the United States. Both men spent hours in jail until the district attorney’s office declined to press charges because there was no evidence of a crime.
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson also addressed the situation in a statement a few days after the incident. “We also will further train our partners to better know when police assistance is warranted,” Johnson wrote. “You can and should expect more from us. We will learn from this and be better.”
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