Starbucks CEO orders ‘unconscious bias’ training after ‘reprehensible’ arrest

April 16 23:01 2018

PhillyVoice pointed to a second, longer video uploaded to YouTube that shows an officer telling the men’s friend, Andrew Yaffe, that they were being arrested for “trespassing”. Meanwhile, speaking exclusively to 6abc Action News, Police Commissioner Richard Ross says he stands by the officers who made the arrest saying they were simply following procedure.

In the video, posted to Twitter by writer and activist Shaun King, Starbucks employees appear to allow a white man to use a Los Angeles area store’s bathroom without having purchased any food or beverage. The white man (who identified himself as Weston) said he had not yet, but he planned to.

In a letter to Starbucks customers and partners issued prior to the video, Johnson wrote that staff will be trained “to better know when police assistance is warranted” and it will host a company-wide meeting in coming days to discuss immediate next steps and “underscore our long-standing commitment to treating one another with respect and dignity”. Protesters were in front of the store Monday, and some of the protestors went inside the store when heavy rains started.

According to USA Today, Starbucks’ regional vice president, Camille Hymes, was present at the location but was unable to speak with demonstrators as she kept being shouted down.

The two men have since been released.

“I’ve seen many, many white people sit at Starbucks without ordering and I’ve never seen management ask them to leave”, he said. He says he hopes to meet with the men personally to apologize for the incident.

“There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store”, he said after the 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin.

Starbucks is investigating the incident, which Johnson blamed on local-store practices that often lead to asking people who are not customers to leave.

Megan Malachi, an organizer of Monday’s demonstration, said the Philly for REAL Justice group had received reports of similar incidents and Monday’s protest was not just against Starbucks, but also against pervasive bias against blacks around Center City. “That’s for (the arrested men) to decide why they didn’t do that”.

Johnson, in an interview with The Associated Press on Monday morning, said the arrests last week were “reprehensible” and should not have happened. “I can tell you candidly these officers did a service they were called to do”, he said. An employee said Starbucks company policy was to refuse the use of the bathrooms to non-customers and asked the men to leave, according to Ross.

About two dozen chanting protesters have entered a Philadelphia Starbucks where two black men were arrested after store employees called 911 to say they were trespassing. In this particular instance, the guidelines that were provided on when to call the police had ambiguity in them.

Ross, a black man, said he was aware of issues of implicit bias – unconscious discrimination based on race – but did not say whether he believed it applied in this case. “They put their bodies on the line”, said Asa Khalif. ‘”We take these matters seriously and clearly have more work to do when it comes to how we handle incidents in our stores”, the tweet read.

Mayor Kenney's Office Hans Menos executive director of Philadelphia’s Police Advisory Commission seen here in a file

Starbucks CEO orders ‘unconscious bias’ training after ‘reprehensible’ arrest
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