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#BoycottStarbucks goes viral after 2 men are arrested for ‘sitting while Black’

Image: [email protected]

The hashtag #BoycottStarbucks has gone viral after two young Black men were arrested for sitting inside a Starbucks in Philadelphia despite the fact that the men did not cause any disruption.

According to media reports, the two men were waiting in the Starbucks for a friend when a barista called the police. They had, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, asked the barista to use the restroom. However, it is Starbucks’ policy to deny the use of their bathrooms for non-paying public, which this employee did. When the men did not purchase any item, they were asked to leave the premises, which they declined to do.

From that point, the barista communicated to the men that the police were being called because the two men did not purchase anything and refused to leave. When officers arrived, they reportedly asked the men to leave the premises on three occasions. The two Black men refused to comply with police orders.

Just as the friend of the two men arrived, the men were put in handcuffs and arrested by police, People magazine reports.

The two Black men’s arrest caused confusion among the mostly White patrons in the Starbucks store.

“What did they do,” one white man can be heard saying in a video captured by Melissa DePino.

“They didn’t do anything, I saw the entire thing,” another White person said.

Even white residents were taken aback by the show of force. Multiple officers were on the scene.

Police Commissioner Richard Ross, an African American, defended the police officers’ actions. He stated in a Facebook video that employees at the coffee store called 911 to report two men who were trespassing. Ross said the men refused to leave, even when police asked them to depart the premises three times, and that the officers “did absolutely nothing wrong.”

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross. Photo: Facebook/Philadelphia Police Department

But several white people, who also posted videos of the event onto social media, wondered why the Black men had to leave in the first place. One White woman stated that she has often sat inside that same Starbucks for up to an hour without purchasing anything, and no employee has ever asked her to buy something or leave. This is what created the outrage and calls for a nationwide boycott #BoycottStarbucks.

Starbucks has since apologized for the incident.

“We apologize to the two individuals and our customers and are disappointed this led to an arrest,” Starbucks said in a statement shared on Twitter Saturday. “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.”

Commissioner Ross, however, continues to defend his police department.

“As an African American male, I am very aware of implicit bias; we are committed to fair and unbiased policing,” Ross said. “If a business calls and they say that ‘Someone is here that I no longer wish to be in my business,’ [officers] now have a legal obligation to carry out their duties and they did just that.”

Terry Shropshire
Terry Shropshire

A military veteran and Buckeye State native, I've written for the likes of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta Business Chronicle and the Detroit Free Press. I'm a lover of words, photography, books, travel, animals and The Ohio State Buckeyes. #GoBucks

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