USA

Starbucks boss to apologise over black mens’ arrests

Starbucks' CEO is hoping to "offer a face-to-face apology" after two black men were arrested while waiting for someone in one of the chain's coffee shops.

In a statement, Kevin Johnson said the company would do "whatever we can to make things right" following a "disheartening situation that led to a reprehensible outcome".

Footage showed officers in Philadelphia taking the men away in handcuffs, as onlookers insisted the pair had done nothing wrong.

The video, which has been viewed millions of times on Twitter, shows a white man telling officers he had arrived to meet the two men and questioning why they had been arrested.

Melissa DePino, who posted the footage, said: "All the other white (people) are wondering why it's never happened to us when we do the same thing."

@Starbucks The police were called because these men hadnt ordered anything. They were waiting for a friend to show up, who did as they were taken out in handcuffs for doing nothing. All the other white ppl are wondering why its never happened to us when we do the same thing. pic.twitter.com/0U4Pzs55Ci

— Melissa DePino (@missydepino) April 12, 2018

Mr Johnson said he hoped to "meet personally with the two men who were arrested to offer a face-to-face apology".

He said the company intended to "investigate the pertinent facts and make any necessary changes to our practices that would help prevent such an occurrence from ever happening again".

The company "stands firmly against discrimination or racial profiling", he added.

"Regretfully," Mr Johnson continued, "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."

There will be a "company-wide meeting next week to share our learnings".

Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney said he was "heartbroken" about the incident which "appears to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018".

But Police Commissioner Richard Ross insisted his officers "did absolutely nothing wrong" after employees at the store reported a disturbance and trespassing.

He said staff had told officers the two men wanted to use a bathroom in the coffee shop but were informed it was only for paying customers.

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Mr Ross said that as an African-American man he was acutely aware of implicit bias, adding: "We are committed to fair and unbiased policing and anything less than that will not be tolerated in this department."

The two arrested men were released after officers learnt Starbucks was "no longer interested" in prosecuting them, Mr Ross said.

Original Article

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