Tuesday 14 August 2018

Starbucks CEO apologises for 'reprehensible' arrest of two black men inside store

The arrest of the two men prompted social media users to accuse the coffee chain of racial discrimination

Protesters gather outside a Starbucks in Philadelphia, Sunday, April 15, 2018, where two black men were arrested Thursday after Starbucks employees called police to say the men were trespassing. (AP Photo/Ron Todt)
Protesters gather outside a Starbucks in Philadelphia, Sunday, April 15, 2018, where two black men were arrested Thursday after Starbucks employees called police to say the men were trespassing. (AP Photo/Ron Todt)
Local Black Lives Matter activist Asa Khalif, left, stands inside a Starbucks, Sunday April 15, 2018, demanding the firing of the manager who called police resulting the arrest of two black men on Thursday. (Mark Bryant/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)
Protesters gather outside of a Starbucks in Philadelphia, Sunday, April 15, 2018, where two black men were arrested Thursday after employees called police to say the men were trespassing. The arrest prompted accusations of racism on social media. (Michael Bryant/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

The head of Starbucks has said he wants to personally apologise to two black men who were arrested while sitting inside one of the chain's coffee shops in Philadelphia.

Starbucks "stands firmly against discrimination or racial profiling," chief executive Kevin Johnson said in a statement.

Protesters gather outside of a Starbucks in Philadelphia, Sunday, April 15, 2018, where two black men were arrested Thursday after employees called police to say the men were trespassing. The arrest prompted accusations of racism on social media. (Michael Bryant/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)
Protesters gather outside of a Starbucks in Philadelphia, Sunday, April 15, 2018, where two black men were arrested Thursday after employees called police to say the men were trespassing. The arrest prompted accusations of racism on social media. (Michael Bryant/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

He said he wants to meet with the men to offer a "face-to-face apology".

A video posted online shows police handcuffing the men after a quiet discussion that lasted several minutes.

Police Commissioner Richard Ross said Starbucks employees called 911 to say the men were trespassing.

He said officers were told the men had come in and asked to use the toilet, but were denied because they had not bought anything. He said they then refused to leave.

Protesters gather outside a Starbucks in Philadelphia, Sunday, April 15, 2018, where two black men were arrested Thursday after Starbucks employees called police to say the men were trespassing. (AP Photo/Ron Todt)
Protesters gather outside a Starbucks in Philadelphia, Sunday, April 15, 2018, where two black men were arrested Thursday after Starbucks employees called police to say the men were trespassing. (AP Photo/Ron Todt)

Mr Johnson's statement did not address exactly what led to the police call, but a Starbucks spokeswoman said the store where the arrests occurred has a policy that restrooms were for paying customers only.

In the video, no Starbucks items are visible in front of either of the men.

Mr Johnson said the company's practices and training led to a "bad outcome", and the reason for the call that brought police into the shop was incorrect.

"Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did," said the statement.

Mr Johnson said videos of the arrest were "very hard to watch", and the company was investigating.

Press Association

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