After calls for a boycott against Starbucks for a recent incident involving the unwarranted arrest of two Black men in Philadelphia, the company’s CEO, Kevin Johnson, has issued an apology. He also wants to meet with the men face to face.
Johnson referred to what happened as a “reprehensible outcome” in a statement he issued on Saturday (April 14).
Dear Starbucks Partners and Customers:
By now, you may be aware of a disheartening situation in one of our Philadelphia-area stores this past Thursday, that led to a reprehensible outcome.
I’m writing this evening to convey three things:
First, to once again express our deepest apologies to the two men who were arrested with a goal of doing whatever we can to make things right. Second, to let you know of our plans to investigate the pertinent facts and make any necessary changes to our practices that would help prevent such an occurrence from ever happening again. And third, to reassure you that Starbucks stands firmly against discrimination or racial profiling.
In the coming days, I will be joining our regional vice president, Camille Hymes—who is on the ground in Philadelphia—to speak with partners, customers and community leaders as well as law enforcement. Most importantly, I hope to meet personally with the two men who were arrested to offer a face-to-face apology.
We have immediately begun a thorough investigation of our practices. In addition to our own review, we will work with outside experts and community leaders to understand and adopt best practices. The video shot by customers is very hard to watch and the actions in it are not representative of our Starbucks Mission and Values. Creating an environment that is both safe and welcoming for everyone is paramount for every store. Regretfully, our practices and training led to a bad outcome—the basis for the call to the Philadelphia police department was wrong. Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did.
We also will further train our partners to better know when police assistance is warranted. Additionally, we will host a company-wide meeting next week to share our learnings, discuss some immediate next steps and underscore our long-standing commitment to treating one another with respect and dignity. I know our store managers and partners work hard to exceed our customers’ expectations every day—which makes this very poor reflection on our company all the more painful.
Finally, to our partners who proudly wear the green apron and to customers who come to us for a sense of community every day: You can and should expect more from us. We will learn from this and be better.
As many of you know, last Thursday, two Black men were arrested by at least six Philadelphia police officers for sitting quietly in a Starbucks waiting for a man to discuss a business deal. As News One noted, a Starbucks employee called the officers because the k men were doing what scores of people do at Starbucks—using the coffee shop as a meeting place without making a purchase.
The man arrived as the officers put the men, who were not being disruptive or confrontational, in handcuffs for trespassing.
Johnson’s statement has received mixed reviews, with some calling it “strong” and others calling it “weak” and needing a better explanation as to why calling the police was even necessary in the first place.
Even the mayor of Philadelphia, Jim Kinney, dismissed the statement claims the police in the situation “appear to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018.”
“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. Like all retail establishments in our city, Starbucks should be a place where everyone is treated the same, no matter the color of their skin,” he continued.
BEAUTIES: Do you believe that the CEO’s apology is sufficient?