Starbucks Protests Grow in Philadelphia

April 16, 2018
Updated 4mo ago

The two black men arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks last week said they will meet with the company’s CEO, as protesters gathered at the coffee shop for a second day Monday to demand that the store manager who called police be fired.

The demonstration at the coffee chain's Rittenhouse Square location, where the men were arrested, grew so intense that the store was closed, CNN reported.

Video of the protests and the arrests of the two unidentified men spread widely on social media, sparking the Twitter hashtag #BoycottStarbucks.

The coffee chain's chief executive, Kevin Johnson, traveled to Philadelphia from Starbucks' Seattle headquarters to "offer a face-to-face apology" to the two men. It's unclearwhen Johnson will meet with the men.

Over the weekend, Johnson had issued a public apology and called the incident “reprehensible.”

“Starbucks stands firmly against discrimination,” he said in a statement, adding the company would investigate the incident and “make any necessary changes” to the company’s practices in order to avoid similar situations in the future.

The store manager is no longer working at that store, a company spokesperson Jaime Riley told CNN, although it is unclear if she was let go.

The men, yet unidentified, were arrested last Thursday when the store manager, who is white, called police to say that they were trespassing. The men said they were at the Starbucks shop waiting for a third friend. When one of the men asked to use the toilet, a store employee refused because the men hadn’t bought anything, which violates Starbucks's policy. The men were asked to leave before the manager called the police.

The men were released after Starbucks decided not to press charges, according to Philadelphia Commissioner Richard Ross. The city's mayor said an apology was insufficient and said he would refer the issue to Philadelphia's Commission on Human Relations to examine Starbucks' policies and employee training.

""I am heartbroken to see Philadelphia in the headlines for an incident that — at least based on what we know at this point — appears to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018," said Mayor Jim Kelly in a statement Saturday.