Starbucks CEO issues apology after video of Philly arrests goes viral

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Both police and Starbucks are investigating after video of an arrest at a Philadelphia Starbuck went viral. (Courtesy Lauren)

The CEO of Starbucks has issued an apology of his own for the incident that led to the arrest of two men at a Philadelphia location last week. Meanwhile, protests took place outside the store.

Protesters began to gather late Sunday morning by the entrance to the Center City location.

Kevin Johnson released his statement on the Starbucks' website late Saturday night to the company's partners and customers.

Johnson said he wrote the message for three reasons, "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."

Starbucks President and COO Kevin Johnson presents during the Starbucks 2016 Investor Day meeting, in New York, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016.



In the statement, which can be read in full below, Johnson said, he will be joining the regional vice president, who is 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," Johnson said.

The Starbucks CEO said the company has begun a thorough investigation of their 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," Johnson said.

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Starbucks apologizes after video of arrest in Philly store goes viral . Bob Brooks reports during Action News at 6 p.m. on April 14, 2018.



Johnson said Starbucks will train their partners to "better know when police assistance is warranted."

He said a company-wide meeting will be held next week to discuss next steps and "underscore our long-standing commitment to treating one another with respect and dignity."

He ended his message with a note to employees and customers.

"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," Johnson said.

Here is Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson's full statement:

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.

Respectfully,

Kevin Johnson

ceo


Johnson's statement follows an earlier apology issued by the company on Saturday:

"We apologize to the two individuals and our customers and are disappointed this led to an arrest. We take these matters seriously and clearly have more work to do when it comes to how we handle incidents in our stores. We are reviewing our policies and will continue to engage with the community and the police department to try to ensure these types of situations never happen in any of our stores."



Video of that arrest, which took place on Thursday at the Starbucks at 18th and Spruce streets in Center City, was posted to Twitter.

The video had more than 7 million views by the weekend and prompted an internal investigation within the Philadelphia Police Department.


The caption of the video reads: "The police were called because these men hadn't 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 it's never happened to us when we do the same thing."

In the video, you can hear the friend who was meeting with the two men ask officers what's going on.

"What did they get called for?" he asked. "Because there are two black guys sitting here meeting me? Tell me, what did they do?"



Other customers then chimed in.

"They didn't do anything, I saw the entire thing," a person off-camera said.

Starbucks responded to the tweet, saying "we're reviewing the incident with our partners, law enforcement, and customers to determine what took place and led to this unfortunate result."



Philadelphia police also tweeted that they were aware of the incident at the location at Spruce and South 18th streets and they were conducting an internal investigation.

Attorney Lauren Wimmer, who represents the two men who were taken into custody, spoke with Action News about the incident.

She said her clients were innocently waiting for the third person to conduct a business meeting.

Wimmer said, "It's what thousands of people do every single day across the country. Starbucks has cultivated this community where people can meet there whether you enjoy coffee or not."

She said it was the manager at the Starbucks who called the police, and that her clients weren't doing anything wrong.

She also added the two men are traumatized and this is an egregious case of racism.

"In the end, this is a case of about race and companies like Starbucks will have to held accountable for discriminatory practices," she said.

Wimmer said after she made some calls to authorities, her clients were released from jail by 2 a.m. Friday.

On Saturday afternoon, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross delivered a statement, which was streamed live on the department's Facebook page.

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Watch Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross's full statement on the incident at a Philadelphia Starbucks, delivered via Facebook on April 14, 2018.



Ross said the department's internal investigation revealed the officers who responded to the scene acted appropriately, and in accordance with police guidelines.

"On three different occasions, the officers asked the males to leave, politely, because they were being asked to leave by employees because they were trespassing," Ross said. "Instead, the males continued to refuse. They told the officers they were not leaving."

At that point, the men were arrested. After they arrived at the police station to be processed, Ross said, authorities were informed that Starbucks did not want to press charges against the men, and so they were released.

Ross added, "As an African-American male, I am very aware of implicit bias. We are committed to fair and unbiased policing, and anything less than that will not be tolerated in this department."

According to the DA's office, charges were declined due to a lack of evidence and the men were released from police custody.
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