Philly police commissioner apologizes for Starbucks arrest

Apr 20, 2018, 00:46
Philly police commissioner apologizes for Starbucks arrest

Over the weekend, attention and outrage over the video grew, prompting a protest at the Starbucks restaurant and a national boycott.

Robinson and his business partner, Rashon Nelson, were arrested shortly after they declined a request for service, explaining they were waiting for a business meeting.

He also said claims that he didn't understand the issue of racism were outlandish.

"She always found a reason to kick Black people out. During that time, partners (employees) will go through a training program created to address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination and ensure everyone inside a Starbucks store feels safe and welcome".

Commissioner Richard Ross staunchly defended the arrests in the days afterward. The two men are now in mediation with Starbucks to create long-lasting solutions such as a customer bill of rights for stores, new policies regarding customer ejections, racial profiling and discrimination training and a framework for independent investigations of any discrimination complaints.

The arrests did not come as a shock to longtime Starbucks observer Byrant Simon. It's a phenomenon not limited by race, age, or gender, affecting even billionaire Oprah Winfrey - turned away at a Paris Hermes shop in 2003 - and former President Barack Obama, who spoke from the White House in the wake of the George Zimmerman acquittal in 2013 about his experiences as a younger man of being followed in stores and doors locking as he passed by.

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As a black man, I am long accustomed to navigating life under the assumption that I am unwelcome, unworthy and perhaps risky. Instead, it felt routine.

"I'm hyper-aware of when I'm in these spaces and what that impact can be and how I say things", said Akbar, 40, a Philadelphia native. "You're not doing that". Comparing the move to Chipotle's 2016 decision to close its stores to deal with E. coli outbreaks, "what they're basically saying is bias is at least as unsafe a problem as food safety". A study a year ago by Case Western professor Cassi Pittman found that such practices require black shoppers to navigate being seen as a threat to avoid harassment, humiliation or harm. "Racism and biases that make simply breathing while black so risky will not just go away without our society committing more resources to discussion, education and training on implicit bias and racism".

Starbucks said the employee who called police on the men no longer worked at that location.

On April 12, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were arrested at a downtown Philadelphia Starbucks and accused of trespassing and disturbance after a manager called 911, telling dispatchers that two men had refused to make a purchase or leave.

"I should have said the officers acted within the scope of the law, and not that they didn't do anything wrong", Ross said. Recorded police shootings of unarmed black men in places like Ferguson, Baltimore and Charleston have had a similar dynamic.

Robinson said the incident was more about "what's right is right and what's wrong is wrong".

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"You go from being someone who's just trying to be an entrepreneur, having your own dreams and aspirations, and then this happens", Nelson said.

"'That's the way I feel, '" Cash recalled of Hylton's explanation. "She was way more likely to ask them to leave over white people who hadn't made a purchase", Cash said.

Nelson said they had been working on the meeting for months.

"I want to make sure this situation doesn't happen again", Robinson, 23, said. Nelson and Robinson believe they were racially profiled by the store's manager, a white woman. But as much as you don't want to pre-judge someone it's there.

Starbucks may be the newest fallen angel among the Left, proving once more that you can never be left enough for the Left.

The Associated Press is the essential global news network, delivering fast, unbiased news from every corner of the world to all media platforms and formats.

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