The arrest of two black men, who delayed placing an order while waiting for a third person to arrive, in a Philadelphia Starbucks has sparked protests outside the location.
Demonstrators have accused the franchise of racial profiling since non-black patrons stated they were not asked to leave the premises when they behaved similarly. Protesters are demanding that store manager, who called the police, be fired.
About 75 people and at least two dozen uniformed officers attended the protest, which was organized by Black Lives Matter activist Asa Khalif, who said he does not accept Johnson’s apology and called Starbucks’ response “lukewarm” and “just about saving face.”
People gathered at the City Center Starbucks at about 12:00 p.m. on Sunday armed with signs – some displaying “Too Little Too Latte” and “#Enough/Shame On Your Starbucks” – as well as shouting slogans from megaphones to voice displeasure for how the men were treated.
Some social media users launched a cyber protest with the hashtag #BoycottStarbucks.
The company apologized to the men with little effect, prompting Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson to attempt to de-escalate the situation with a statement offering “our deepest apologies.” Johnson also added that the company aims to do “whatever we can to make things right,” and said he hoped “to meet personally with the two men who were arrested to offer a face-to-face apology.”
Several Starbucks customers recorded the arrest on their cell phones. Melissa DePino recorded the video that went viral on social media with nearly 10 million views.
“These guys never raised their voices. They never did anything remotely aggressive ... I was sitting close to where they were. Very close. They were not doing anything. They weren't,” DePino said.
Philadelphia native, comedian and actor Kevin Hart and others chimed in with comments on social media.
A white male, named Andrew Yaffe, who said he was at the cafe to meet the men arrived just in time to witness the two been escorted out in handcuffs.
“What did they get called for? Because there are two black guys sitting here meeting me?...What did they do?”
“They didn't do anything,” a patron responded in the video, “I saw the entire thing.”
The men were taken to a police station and fingerprinted and photographed and held for almost eight hours without being charged. Lauren Wimmer, a representative for the men, told The Washington Post that the district attorney found no evidence of a crime.
Starbucks says the video is “very hard to watch,” that the company “stands firmly against” racial profiling.