PHILADELPHIA – The executive director of Starbucks apologized after a video of two black men arrested in a Philadelphia location went viral. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson issued a statement saying the situation had a "reprehensible result." He promised that the company "immediately began a thorough investigation of our practices."
The video, captured by author Melissa DePino, shows the end of what happened during the incident that provoked public outrage. The men expected to meet their friend when they were asked to leave, witnesses said. The police was called to the scene.
Lauren Wimmer, a lawyer for men, refused to identify them but told CBS Philadelphia that They were at Starbucks for less than 15 minutes, waiting for a third person to arrive for a business meeting about a real estate project. By the time that person arrived, so did the police.
"The video, in this case, essentially speaks for itself," said Wimmer. "These guys were doing what people do every day, they had a meeting and they were definitely marked by their race." The people inside Starbucks at that time also thought that the men were being targeted because of their race, so some intervened to try to help.
"Six or seven of us went outside and asked the police officers why they did it, and eventually they took both of them," said Kant Khatri, who witnessed the arrest.
Johnson, the CEO of Starbucks, insisted the company "strongly opposes discrimination or racial profiling." He said he hoped to meet with the two men to offer a personal apology.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross defended his officers' decision to arrest the men. Ross said that Starbucks employees called the police to say that the men were trespassing. He said that they came to use the bathroom but that they were denied because they had not bought anything.
Ross, who is black, said the police asked the men to leave three times, but they refused. Ross said his officers "did absolutely nothing."
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said on Saturday he was "disconsolate" to see the city in the headlines for an incident that appears at the moment "to exemplify what racial discrimination is like in 2018"
Kenney says He asked the Human Relations Commission to examine the company's policies and procedures "including the scope of, or the need for, implicit bias training for its employees."
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