Following viral footage capturing the arrest of two black men at a Starbucks location in Philadelphia, the CEO of the Seattle-based coffeehouse, Kevin Johnson is issuing an apology.
In a statement released by the company on Saturday, Johnson said the situation had a “reprehensible outcome” and promised that he has “immediately begun a thorough investigation” of its practices.
“In addition to our own review, we will work with outside experts and community leaders to understand and adopt best practices,” Johnson said. “The video shot by customers is very hard to watch and the actions in it are not representative of our Starbucks Mission and Values.”
Johnson goes on to say that they are working diligently to create an “environment that is both safe and welcoming for everyone.”
“Regretfully, our practices and training led to a bad outcome — the basis for the call to the Philadelphia police department was wrong,” he added. “Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did.”
The CEO adds that the company will look to host a company-wide meeting next week to share learnings, “discuss some immediate next steps and underscore our long-standing commitment to treating one another with respect and dignity.”
“I know our store managers and partners work hard to exceed our customers’ expectations every day — which makes this very poor reflection on our company all the more painful,” he said.
The video, which was captured by Twitter user and author Melissa DePino, shows just the end of what went down during the incident that has led to public outrage.
@Starbucks 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. All the other white ppl are wondering why it’s never happened to us when we do the same thing. pic.twitter.com/0U4Pzs55Ci— Melissa DePino (@missydepino) April 12, 2018
The two men were found to be waiting for a friend when they were asked to leave, as witnesses tell CBS News. Police were then called to the scene.
Though the two men remain unidentified as per their lawyer, Lauren Wimmer’s advisement, she tells CBS Philadelphia that they were at the Starbucks for “less than 15 minutes, waiting for a third person to arrive for a business meeting over a real estate project.”
By the time their client had arrived, so did the police.
“The video, in this case, essentially speaks for itself,” Wimmer told CBS. “These guys were doing what people do every day, they were having a meeting and they were undoubtedly singled out because of their race.”
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross has since defended his officers’ decision to arrest the men, telling CBS that Starbucks employees called the authorities claiming the men were “trespassing.” He adds that they came in to use the restroom, but were denied because they had not bought anything.
Ross, a black man himself, alleges the police asked the men to leave “three times, but they refused,” adding that his officers “did absolutely nothing wrong.”0comments
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said on Saturday that he was :heartbroken” to see the city in the headlines for a situation that clearly illustrates “what racial discrimination looks like in 2018.”
“For many, Starbucks is not just a place to buy a cup of coffee, but a place to meet up with friends or family members, or to get some work done,” Kenney said. “Like all retail establishments in our city, Starbucks should be a place where everyone is treated the same, no matter the color of their skin.”