A viral video of two black men being arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks has elicited three very different responses from police, the company and community members.
In the video, which was posted to Twitter Thursday by Philadelphia resident Melissa DePino, two black men can be seen being escorted out of the coffee shop in handcuffs. Customers can be seen and heard telling officers that the men did nothing wrong.
Included with her tweet, DePino wrote: “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.”
Here’s how stakeholders have so far responded:
Police commissioner says officers did ‘nothing wrong’
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross defended the actions of officers in the video saying his officers “did absolutely nothing wrong.”
In a statement on Facebook Live, Ross said that Starbucks employees called 911 to report a trespassing complaint.
The employees told officers the two men wanted to use the restroom but were told the facilities are only for paying customers. The Starbucks employees then asked the men to leave, but they refused, Ross said.
Officers responded and asked the men three times “politely to leave the location because they were being asked to leave by employees because they were trespassing.” When the men again refused to leave, they were arrested “without incident,” Ross said.
The men were taken to a police station and released when it became clear Starbucks didn’t want to press charges.
“They did a service that they were called to do,” Ross said of the officers. “And if you think about it logically, that if a business calls and they say that someone is here that I no longer wish to be in my business, (officers) now have a legal obligation to carry out their duties. And they did just that.”
Ross, who is black, referenced his own experiences while making his case, saying, “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.”
Starbucks CEO apologizes for ‘reprehensible’ incident
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson called the incident “reprehensible” and outlined steps the company would take to “help prevent such an occurrence from ever happening again.”
“Starbucks stands firmly against discrimination or racial profiling,” Johnson said in a statement Saturday. “I hope to meet personally with the two men who were arrested to offer a face-to-face apology.”
Johnson said Starbucks’ “practices and training led to the bad outcome” with the two men being arrested.
“The basis for the call to the Philadelphia police department was wrong,” he said. “Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did.”
Earlier, the company tweeted an apology, saying “We take these matters seriously and clearly have more work to do when it comes to how we handle incidents in our stores.”
A company-wide meeting will be held this week, Johnson said, to share what was learned from the incident, discuss next steps and “underscore our long-standing commitment to treating one another with respect and dignity.”
Philly activists and community call for justice
Members of Black Lives Matter PA held a demonstration at the Philadelphia Starbucks store on Sunday. The rally started outside Starbucks; protesters then went inside to confront the manager.
Asa Khalif of Black Lives Matter called it the “People’s Protest,” according to CNN affiliate WPVI-TV.
“Black and brown people deserve to have a safe space without being profiled. Shoutout to the white allies who stood up and saw injustice and fought against it challenging the police. That’s what this is about,” Khalif said.
Celebrities and politicians are also calling for action. Comedian Kevin Hart, a Philadelphia native, tweeted Sunday that Starbucks needed to “make this situation right.”
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said Starbucks’ apology “is not enough.”
He said he “asked the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations to examine the firm’s polices and procedures, including the extent of, or need for, implicit bias training for its employees.”
Kenney said he’s “heartbroken to see Philadelphia in the headlines for an incident like that,” which he says “appears to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018.”
“Starbucks should be a place where everyone is treated the same, no matter the color of their skin,” Kenney says.
CNN’s Chris Boyette contributed to this report.