@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
Two black men were arrested on Thursday after they entered a Philadelphia Starbucks and proceeded to wait for a friend who had scheduled to meet them there.
A video posted by novelist Melissa Depino shows the tail-end of the incident. Uploaded to Twitter on Thursday night, Depino captioned the video:
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 video quickly went viral after being posted–and has notched in excess of 3 million views as of this writing. Legal observers were outraged at the apparently racially bigoted conduct on display in the video.
Cecilia Wang, deputy legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union, did not mince words. She tweeted:
On the two Black men arrested at Starbucks for no reason other than waiting for a friend to show up. Yes. Shout this piece of this thread from the rooftops. https://t.co/QAUXC45bQD
— Cecillia Wang (@WangCecillia) April 14, 2018
In response to voluble and widespread criticism, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross took to Facebook Live and issued the following defense of the police officers’ behavior during the incident. He said, “These officers did absolutely nothing wrong, and they did a service they were called to do.”
Ross’ statement was quickly pounced upon by critics. Film executive Franklin Leonard noted:
The only way they did nothing wrong is if they see their job as arresting black men who have committed no crime, which… well… I’ll let you do the rest. https://t.co/lKK2vfMpUt
— Franklin Leonard (@franklinleonard) April 14, 2018
Starbucks eventually released a statement on Saturday afternoon, expressing regret over the turn of events. The company’s statement reads, in full:
We apologize to the two individuals and our customers and are disappointed this led to an arrest. We take these matters seriously and clearly have more work to do when it comes to how we handle incidents in our stores. We are reviewing our policies and will continue to engage with the community and the police department to try to ensure these types of situations never happen in any of our stores.
That statement, however, has not been viewed as adequate. Diversity in tech advocate Erica Joy accused the coffee giant of trying to have it both ways. She tweeted:
You’ll notice that nowhere in this “apology” was an admission of wrongdoing. Starbucks doesn’t think the employees were wrong to call the cops on those men, they’re just sorry the men got arrested over it. https://t.co/wcE6s20lwk
— EricaJoy (@EricaJoy) April 14, 2018
Authorities allegedly attempted to press charges against the men over “defiant trespass,” but were ultimately shut down by Philadelphia’s reform-minded District Attorney Larry Krasner, “because of lack of evidence.”
[image via screengrab]