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Starbucks Responds to Video of Black Men Arrested with Racial-Bias Education for Employees


After a video of two black men being arrested at a Starbucks location in Philadelphia sparked intense backlash on social media and an apology was issued by CEO Kevin Johnson, the company announced Tuesday that 175,000 employees will be educated on racial bias on May 29.

Starbucks will be closing 8,000 stores that afternoon to do so.

In case you missed it, two black men were arrested last Thursday when they did not order anything and waited for a friend to show up.

Novelist Melissa DePino filmed the arrest and her video exploded on social media. It’s been viewed more than 10 million times.

While Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross said  the officers involved “did absolutely nothing wrong, and they did a service they were called to do,” Starbucks issued an apology to the men who were arrested.

CEO Kevin Johnson called the arrest a “reprehensible outcome” and said he wanted to accomplish three things with his apology:

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.

He also said he hoped to meet with the two men face-to-face so he can apologize.

Starbucks, to support the reassurance of its stance against racial profiling and discrimination, announced Tuesday afternoon that it will close stores nationwide to educate employees.

“I’ve spent the last few days in Philadelphia with my leadership team listening to the community, learning what we did wrong and the steps we need to take to fix it,” Johnson was quoted in the news release. “While this is not limited to Starbucks, we’re committed to being a part of the solution. Closing our stores for racial bias training is just one step in a journey that requires dedication from every level of our company and partnerships in our local communities.”

Corporate offices will also be closed that afternoon.

The news release says national and locals experts from the Equal Justice Initiative, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Demos, the Anti-Defamation League, as well as former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, will be involved in developing a curriculum for employees to follow.

[Image via Twitter screengrab]

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.