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Starbucks Arrests Attracts Protests and Change

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Mark Makela

Mark Makela

Mark Makela

Anoushka Gupta, Staff Writer

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  On April 12, 2017, two African-American men were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks and charged  with trespassing, despite the fact that numerous onlookers proclaimed their innocence.

  The two men, whose names are yet to be released, were waiting inside the Starbucks for a friend, Andrew Yaffe. As they were  waiting, they chose not to order anything and as a result, they were barred from using the bathroom. After a few minutes, the manager asked the two men to leave three times and after their refusal, the manager called the police on them for trespassing and causing disruption in the store, despite the fact that the two men had done nothing wrong.

   Etenesh Abebe (10) said, “I think that it is pretty obvious that the arrests were not about trespassing or disruptions, they were racially motivated.”

  Many witnesses at the scene shared Abebe’s sentiments, as shown in the now-viral video on Twitter, where numerous Caucasian customers confronted the police on why they were arresting the men when they had not done anything wrong. The user who posted the video, Melissa DePino,  stated, “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 people are wondering why it has never happened to us when we do the same thing.”

    Dana Yun (10) agreed with Depino and said, “I have sat in Starbucks without ordering countless times and I have never even been questioned. I do not understand why these men were arrested for a rule that isn’t even implemented.”                                                               

   The incident has caused a PR nightmare for Starbucks, along with the same storefront being swarmed with protesters in the days following the arrests.Numerous celebrities like T.I and Kevin Hart, have also called out the company on social media.

   The company responded to the incident by firing the manager who called the police. Also, the CEO, Kevin Johnson, agreed to personally meet the two men to discuss the incident and formally apologize.

  Johnson stated, “Clearly, there is an opportunity for us to provide clarity and in addition to that I would say there is training, more training that we are going to do with our store managers, not only around the guidelines but training around unconscious bias.”

   It seems that Starbucks is serious about retraining their officers, as they have announced that they will be closing all their United States locations on May 29 to provide racial and unconscious bias training to their employees with hope of future prevention against incidents like this. The arrests can serve as a reminder to all companies about the dangers of racial biases and their pervasiveness on our society today.  

 

   

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