Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson met Monday with two black men who were arrested after an employee at one of the company’s Philadelphia locations called 911 to say they were trespassing, according to multiple reports.
A Starbucks spokesperson told CNN that Johnson apologized to the men, who were arrested Thursday at the Starbucks at 18th and Spruce streets. The spokesperson declined to elaborate on what took place during the meeting.
A video clip posted on YouTube Thursday shows police talking to two black men for several minutes, then handcuffing them and escorting them off the premises.
Melissa DePino, who took the video, said, "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."
The men were released from custody at 12:30 a.m. Friday, according to Lauren Wimmer, an attorney representing them pro bono. Wimmer declined to identify the two men.
Philadelphia police Commissioner Richard Ross confirmed DePino’s observation and said officers responded to a 911 call for a disturbance at the store. Ross said police were told the men asked to use the restroom but had not ordered anything, a violation of Starbucks’ policy. They were asked to leave and refused to do so, Ross said in the video.
“The police did not just happen upon this event -- they did not just walk into Starbucks to get a coffee,” Ross said in his video. “They were called there, for a service, and that service had to do with quelling a disturbance, a disturbance that had to do with trespassing. These officers did absolutely nothing wrong.”
CEO Kevin Johnson addressed the Starbucks policy in a statement on Saturday. He wrote that the basis to call the police was wrong, and while the store manager never intended for the men to be arrested, the incident should have never escalated as it did. Johnson promised more training.
In his statement, Johnson also called the actions a “reprehensible outcome.”
"I’m writing this evening to convey three things, " he wrote in part. "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."
Protesters gathered outside the Philadelphia Starbucks to express their dissatisfaction over the controversial incident.
The Starbucks manager who called 911 on the men last week has left the company, officials told The Philadelphia Inquirer.
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