If you live in Philadelphia your life is already shitty enough, but insult was added to injury when two black men were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks for what the manager who phoned the police alleged was loitering. The two men claimed that they were waiting for a friend to join them before ordering, but the hairbrained story didn’t win over the police, who cuffed both men and escorted them out of the Starbucks.
Optics are everything now that anyone with a phone is a documentarian, and almost instantaneously a video of the incident went viral, causing a huge uproar from Black Lives Matter activists and eliciting about a thousand apologies from the Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson. Here’s just a snippet of his statement released through the Starbucks website:
First, to once again express our deepest apologies to the two men who were arrested with a goal of doing whatever we can to make things right. Second, to let you know of our plans to investigate the pertinent facts and make any necessary changes to our practices that would help prevent such an occurrence from ever happening again. And third, to reassure you that Starbucks stands firmly against discrimination or racial profiling.
To be fair, you apparently don’t. I’m one of those people who feels obligated to order a ten-course meal anytime I want to use a restaurant’s bathroom for fear of being bitched out, so I don’t care that the men were asked to leave Starbucks for not ordering anything. It’s, um, a fucking business. The Philly police commissioner alleges that before the video was taken, the men were asked to leave multiple times by store employees. At that point I would have been mortified and forked over my life’s savings, but the two men felt pretty damn comfortable hanging out in a private establishment that they in no way owned, and said that they would prefer to stay.
On one hand, Philadelphia has a slightly higher murder rate than Chicago, and it kind of feels like the police should have bigger fish to fry than arresting two guys hanging out at a Starbucks. With five police officers on the scene in the video, “choosing your battles” doesn’t really seem to be the MO of the Philadelphia police department.
On the other hand, the way businesses work is that we give them money in exchange for services or goods, and as the men were taking up real estate in the Starbucks, I’m not exactly sure what makes them exempt from the way the world works. And on the other other hand, I couldn’t help but notice that the police officers didn’t order anything.
We apologize to the two individuals and our customers for what took place at our Philadelphia store on Thursday. pic.twitter.com/suUsytXHks
— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) April 14, 2018
We regret that our practices and training led to the reprehensible outcome at our Philadelphia store. We’re taking immediate action to learn from this and be better. A statement from ceo Kevin Johnson: https://t.co/kPav8bEeOX
— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) April 15, 2018
Thank U, 2 the man in the Grey vest.
But, look at how close he was allowed 2 get 2 the arresting officers while verbally protesting/questioning the arrest. COPs are usually yelling at people 2 “GET BACK..GET BACK!!”
Did the rules change? pic.twitter.com/LludkAKjXC
— mark maloof (@sir_nose55) April 14, 2018
Photo Credit: Twitter