Police officers in Philadelphia handcuffed and removed 2 black men from Starbucks while they were waiting for a friend to arrive.
Many people, including the mayor of Philadelphia, have denounced the incident as racial discrimination.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney asked the city’s Commission on Human Relations to review Starbucks’ policies and procedures after the incident, reported WHYY.
In a statement, Kenney said the incident, “appears to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018.” He continued, “For many, Starbucks is not just a place to buy a cup of coffee, but a place to meet up with friends or family members, or to get some work done. Like all retail establishments in our city, Starbucks should be a place where everyone is treated the same, no matter the color of their skin.”
Author Melissa DePino tweeted a video on Thursday showing officers escorting two black men out of a Starbucks in Center City as bystanders questioned why the men were being arrested.
@Starbucks 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. pic.twitter.com/0U4Pzs55Ci
— Melissa DePino (@missydepino) April 12, 2018
“The police were called because these men hadn’t ordered anything,” DePino wrote on Twitter. “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.”
Lauren A. Wimmer, defense attorney for the pair who was arrested, told BuzzFeed that the man in the vest questioning the arrest is Andrew Yaffe, a friend who was meeting the men at Starbucks. She declined to give the names of her two clients.
“What did they get called for?” Yaffe asks an officer in the video. “’Cause there are two black guys sitting here meeting me?”
Another voice can be heard saying, “They didn’t do anything. I saw the entire thing.”
Wimmer said a while female manager asked th emen to leave when they came into the store and did not immediately order. The men explained they were waiting for someone, as is common at Starbucks, and the manager called the police.
The men were released at 1:30 a.m. Saturday, and the DA will not bring charges against them, according to Ben Waxman, a spokesman for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office
Police Commissioner Richard Ross said in a Facebook Live video that the officers did nothing wrong. They responded to the scene, he said, after receiving a 911 call reporting a disturbance and trespassing.
Ross said the officers asked the men to leave but they chose to stay.
“They followed policy. They did what they were supposed to do. They were professional in all their dealings with these gentlemen,” Ross said.
Starbucks Tweeted an apology in response to the incident.
We apologize to the two individuals and our customers for what took place at our Philadelphia store on Thursday. pic.twitter.com/suUsytXHks
— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) April 14, 2018