- Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson apologized on Saturday night to the two black men arrested in a Philadelphia store.
- Videos of the arrest, which went viral, were “very hard to watch,” Johnson said.
- He said the company’s practices and training led to the “reprehensible outcome” and that the incident “should never have escalated as it did.”
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson issued a lengthy apology statement Saturday night as online backlash against the coffee giant grew over the arrests of two black men in a Philadelphia store.
Several videos that went viral showed police officers handcuffing two men and leading them out of the store, over the protestations of bystanders who said “they didn’t do anything.”
Philadelphia authorities said the men had been sitting in the cafe and asked baristas if they could use the restroom, though they hadn’t bought anything. Police said that when the Starbucks employees declined and asked them to leave, the men refused and one barista called the police.
In one video, a white man, who media outlets identified as Andrew Yaffe, says he was there to meet the two men. He argued with one of the police officers, calling the arrests “ridiculous.”
“What did they do?” Yaffe asks repeatedly. When one officer tells him that the police department received a call from the store, he replies, “What did they get called for? That there are two black guys sitting here meeting me?”
At that point, a bystander pipes up: “They didn’t do anything. I saw the entire thing.”
Johnson on Saturday said the videos of the incident were “very hard to watch,” and called outcome “reprehensible.” His statement outlined several steps he said he would take to reconcile with the men and ensure the incident won’t happen again in the future.
Watch one of the videos below:
@StarbucksThe police were called because these men hadnâ¬”t ordered anything.They were waiting for a friend to show up, who did as they weretaken out in handcuffs for doing nothing. All the other white pplare wondering why itâ¬”s never happened to us when we do the samething. pic.twitter.com/0U4Pzs55Ci
— Melissa DePino (@missydepino) April 12, 2018
‘Our practices and training led to a bad outcome’
Johnson said he was issuing the statement to “once again express our deepest apologies,” as well as address the company’s plans to investigate the incident and change any practices necessary, and assure the public that “Starbucks stands firmly against discrimination or racial profiling.”
“Regretfully, our practices and training led to a bad outcome – the basis for the call to the Philadelphia police department was wrong,” Johnson said. “Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did.”
Johnson said he will join the company’s regional vice president, Camille Hymes, in Philadelphia to speak with employees, customers, community leaders, and law-enforcement officials. He added that he wants to personally meet with the two men who were arrested “to offer a face-to-face apology.”
He added that Starbucks is launching an investigation of its practices and intends to work with “community leaders” and outside experts to adopt changes. He said employees will also receive training to better know when police should be called.
Starbucks had issued a briefer apology earlier on Saturday, which was instantly criticized as being insufficient and unclear on what steps the company would take to address and rectify the situation.
“We apologize to the two individuals and our customers and are disappointed this led to an arrest,” the initial statement read. “We take these matters seriously and clearly have more work to do when it comes to how we handle incidents in our stores.”
The Philadelphia Police Department has defended the officers who arrested the men, and said they “did absolutely nothing wrong,” and had legal standing to arrest the men for trespassing.
The District Attorney declined to prosecute the men, saying there was a “lack of evidence of a crime.”