Local customers react to 2 black men arrested at Philly Starbucks
SEATTLE -- A video of two men being arrested inside a Philadelphia Starbucks store Thursday has had more than 9 million Twitter views and has generated a swift reaction from the Seattle coffee giant.
The video, which the company says was shot by a customer, shows two African-American men being surrounded by Philadelphia police. A customer is heard questioning police about the arrest.
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, in a statement, called it “a disheartening situation” with “a reprehensible outcome.”
Philadelphia police said the men hadn’t purchased anything and refused to leave.
Police Commissioner Richard Ross defended the officers’ actions.
Johnson, in a lengthy statement released Saturday, called the video “very hard to watch.”
ABC News spoke with the woman who shot the viral video. She said a barista, from behind the counter, shouted that the two men should make a purchase or leave.
"They were sitting quietly minding their own business, and waiting for their friend to come,” Melissa DePino, 50, told the network.
Johnson, in his statement, apologized to the two men. He said Starbucks is launching an investigation into the incident and that the company “stands firmly against discrimination or racial profiling.”
“The basis for the call to the Philadelphia police was wrong. Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should have never escalated as it did.”
Starbucks has a history of community engagement – asking baristas to talk about race, hosting coffee with cop chats and being a safe place for victims of hate crimes.
Johnson said Starbucks will be speaking with its employees, customers, law enforcement and community leaders. He said he hopes to “meet personally with the two men who were arrested and offer a face-to-face apology.”
Standing outside the Queen Anne Hill store Sunday, Kelly Morgan called the video “appalling.”
“Is it a Starbucks policy if someone’s there without coffee that they’re allowed to do this, or is it a personal manager’s view,” Morgan said.
Stacya Silverman, who lives on Queen Anne Hill, said she doesn’t know anyone who hasn’t gone into a Starbucks to wait for someone, use the restroom or just linger without making a purchase.
“As a white lady that probably wouldn’t have happened to me. If it was me that wouldn’t have happened to me,” she said. “That’s why everyone is shocked and disappointed.”