Starbucks: Purchase or Leave

Katie Huntley

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A former Starbucks manager in Philadelphia made a telephone call that initiated a controversial arrest of two African-American men at her downtown store. This manager called 911 and stated, “I have two gentlemen at my cafe that are refusing to make a purchase or leave the grounds.”

An operator received a phone call at 4:37 p.m. last Thursday. The operator said she would send police to the location to try and settle the situation. When police responded they later radioed at 5 p.m stating that they would be arresting the two men and escorting them to the police headquarters.

Melissa DePino, a customer, released a recording of the arrest which went viral on social media. She mentioned, “the men were doing nothing more than sitting at a table when police entered the shop, put them in handcuffs, and promptly hauled them away.” Since then the incident has prompted widespread protests, and even influenced an apology from the Starbucks’ CEO.

Starbucks released a statement Tuesday saying all 8,000 of its nationwide company-owned stores will shut down for a few hours on May 29 for racial-bias education for about 175,000 employees. In a supplemental video with the statement, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, who has zeroed in on ” unconscious bias,” said the move comes as they are “committed to being part of the solution,” and that this training “is just one step in a journey that requires dedication from every level of our company and partnerships in our local communities.”