Last month two black men were arrested in a Starbucks in Philadelphia, all because they had sat down without buying a drink. They were there to meet a third man for a business meeting, and were waiting for him to arrive before they ordered. Soon after they were asked to leave by the staff, before the police were called.
The incident was recorded, with other customers being heard saying "they didn't do anything wrong" in the background. The video was posted to Twitter, in a post that highlighted the racial profiling involved in this situation - as many of us will have sat down in a cafe before ordering without getting into any trouble.
A #BoycottStarbucks campaign was launched, and Starbucks eventually responded to the issues raised by this event. The company eventually decided to shut down 8,000 locations across the US on May 29, so that their employees could be trained on racial bias.
The two men who were arrested, Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson, were then seen on Good Morning America, where they were interviewed by Robin Roberts. "Initially, as soon as they approached us, they just said we have to leave," Nelson said. "There was no question of, ‘Was there a problem here between you guys and the manager?,’ No ‘What happened?'"
"We weren’t read any rights, nothing. Just double-locked, handcuffed behind our back, and escorted out and put in a squad car," Robinson added. Now, it appears that both Nelson and Robinson have reached a settlement with the city of Philadelphia, but they used the money to help those in need, rather than fill their own pockets.
According to the Washington Post, the two men chose to settle rather than sue, on May 2. The settlement they came to was a tiny and ultimately symbolic sum of just one dollar.
In lieu of a larger sum for themselves, Robinson and Nelson requested that Philadelphia set aside $200,000 aside to create a fund for high school students who wish to become 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 the 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."
In addition to this, the record of the Starbucks arrest will be wiped clean, so they are not faced with a criminal history in the future when they hadn't broken any laws. "I want to thank Donte and Rashon for their willingness to reconcile," Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said. "I welcome the opportunity to begin a relationship with them to share learnings and experiences."
Robins and Nelson's meeting in Starbucks that day was to meet with a business associate to discuss an opportunity in real estate. So, this settlement is definitely fitting, given that the two men are entrepreneurs themselves. The fact that they both took this opportunity to give back to the community is an incredible conclusion to this story.