Protesters swarm Starbucks where two black men were arrested
Protesters swarmed a Philly Starbucks on Sunday after a video of two black men being arrested there sparked outrage.
Dozens of people showed up at the Center City cafe at noon carrying signs that read “Boycott Racist Starbucks” and “#Enough Shame On You Starbucks,” the Philly News reported.
The protest came after a video, posted Thursday by writer Melissa DePino, showed two black men being handcuffed and paraded out of the shop — as other customers repeatedly asked, “What did they do?”
Police Commissioner Richard Ross said Starbucks employees called 911 to say the men were trespassing. The men reportedly had refused to leave after being told they couldn’t use the bathroom if they didn’t buy anything — in violation of Starbucks policy.
The men had just been waiting to meet a real estate developer named Andrew Yaffe to discuss investment opportunities, their attorney, Lauren Wimmer, later told the Washington Post.
“Why would they be asked to leave?” Yaffe can be heard saying in the video, which has been viewed over 8 million times. “Does anybody else think this is ridiculous?” he asks people nearby. “It’s absolute discrimination.”
The men, who declined to be identified, were released eight hours after their arrest because the district attorney found no evidence of a crime.
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In a statement posted to the company’s website late Saturday, CEO Kevin Johnson apologized to the two men, calling the situation “disheartening” and “reprehensible” and saying the video is “very hard to watch.”
He also said he wanted to meet with the men to “offer a face-to-face apology.”
But protesters thought that apology came “a little too latte,” as one person’s sign read.
At one point, Black Lives Matter activist Asa Khalif led the group inside the store, asking, “Should we ask the racist manager to come out?”
Starbucks regional vice president Camille Hymes came out to speak with the crowds and said the company knows people want the manager fired but that the company takes responsibility.
The protesters stayed inside for about 10 more minutes and then left peacefully, according to the Inquirer.
Separate investigations into the incident have been launched by Mayor Jim Kenney’s office, the Philadelphia Police Department and Starbucks.
Another protest called “Shut Down Starbucks” is scheduled for Monday morning and at least 180 people have RSVPed on Facebook.
Their demands include firing of the white manager who called the police and of the two cops who conducted the arrest.
With Post wires