Videos posted online show officers handcuffing the men in the downtown establishment on Thursday.
Here were two black men being confronted by six police officers, handcuffed and led away, as a white man who said they were waiting for him pleaded with police to tell him what these men had done wrong. He said police processed the pair for arrest, but later "discovered Starbucks was no longer interested in prosecuting", and let them go. The employee called the police when they refused.
If the men meant to make a purchase but were just waiting for their friend to order, then - at the least - it was rather inconsiderate for the Starbucks employees to make them wait to use the bathroom until a purchase had been made.
The men were later released after Starbucks did not press charges.
Multiple witnesses recorded the incident on cellphones. Both of them were asked to leave, which has sparked an outrage across the nation. Yaffe said, "Does anybody else think this is ridiculous?" he asks people nearby, adding, "It's absolute discrimination", according to the Washington Post. "It's absolute discrimination." A woman chimes in off-camera: "They didn't do anything". For many, Starbucks is not just a place to buy a cup of coffee, but a place to meet up with friends or family members, or to get some work done. They remain seated and calmly speak with the authorities.
Another video shows Alan Yaffe, the third party to the meeting and a real estate professional, challenging the arrest. They may leave restroom doors unlocked or add key code entries if they feel the store is more at risk for criminal behavior. The two men stand up to be cuffed. Saahene said that the two men were polite and never got angry or raised their voices. In the video, there appear to be open tables for any potential waiting customers. Starbucks' CEO is apologizing, but many are still calling on the company to change its policies. He told a Philly.com reporter he rejects Johnson's apology, saying it was "about saving face".
"Who is the manager going to call and say 'please leave?' " she asked.
According to Ross' explanation, the two men, who have only been identified thus far as area realtors, had not made a purchase but asked to use the coffee shop's bathroom.
In a video statement, Ross said store employees called 911 to report a disturbance and trespassing. "Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did".
Kenney also says he has asked the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations to look into whether additional implicit bias training should be required of Starbucks employees, and his office has reached out to Starbucks directly to discuss the matter.
Kenney said little about the response of his police force beyond mentioning an ongoing review from Police Commissioner Richard Ross.
After the arrest, the police were also being criticized for their handling of the situation.
Calls to boycott Starbucks are growing after two black men were arrested because they had not ordered anything.
Police said they are conducting an internal investigation.
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