Starbucks haven’t been getting the best press over the last few weeks, after an incident in Philadelphia caused outrage across the country. In a video posted to Twitter, two African-American men were arrested for the crime of merely waiting for a friend inside the cafe. The staff asked them to leave as they were sat down without buying anything yet, and when they refused, as many of us would, the cops were called, while onlookers claimed “they didn’t do anything”.
Melissa DePino, the woman who caught the incident on camera, captioned her tweet with:
“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 people are wondering why it’s never happened to us when we do the same thing.”
In response to this, Starbucks’ CEO promised to meet with the two men who were arrested, explaining that he had “spent the last few days in Philadelphia with my leadership team listening to the community, learning what we did wrong and the steps we need to take to fix it,” in his official statement. In addition to this, they decided to close 8,000 stores nationwide to implement some important training for their staff.
“While this is not limited to Starbucks, we’re committed to being a part of the solution,” CEO Kevin Johnson said. “Closing our stores for racial bias training is just one step in a journey that requires dedication from every level of our company and partnerships in our local communities.”
To help develop the curriculum for this training, they have employed experts in the field. Those consulted included Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative; Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund; Heather McGhee, president of Demos; former US Attorney General Eric Holder; and Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League.
While the Starbucks staff in this situation seemed to think it was necessary to call the police in to apprehend the two men, many wondered what exactly was said during the call. Now, it appears that the recording of the call between the Starbucks staff member and the Philadelphia Police Department has been leaked, and you can listen to this recording in the video below:
The store manager’ complaint is very to the point — her end of the call lasts about ten seconds. “Hi, I have two gentlemen in my café that are refusing to make a purchase or leave,” she told the operator, then gave them their address. The operator responded, “All right, police will be out as soon as possible.”
Given how brief and to-the-point her complaint was, it seems that the police believed it was a good enough reason to visit the Starbucks. However, the vagueness of her description of their refusal to leave (they were waiting for a friend) doesn’t mean the police had to make an arrest for two men who were doing something we’ve all done from time to time.