Photo courtesy of ABC News.
Rashon Nelson (left) and Donte Robinson (right) speak out about
their plans to end racial bias after Starbucks arrest.
An incident occurred last month at a Philadelphia Star¬bucks that left two black men in handcuffs and the popular coffee chain under fire for racial profiling. On Wednesday, May 2, the victims agreed on a settlement with the city of just $1 each.
Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, both 23, also made an agreement with the city to receive a $200,000 grant that will help generate a startup program to assist high school students who want to be entrepreneurs.
On April 12, the two men were sitting inside Starbucks for a business meeting, and were waiting for a third person before they ordered. The men approached a worker asking if they could use the restroom while they waited and were denied access.
The worker then continued to ask the men to leave, to which they refused. Shortly after, the employee called the police, and Nelson and Robin¬son were arrested on suspicion of trespassing. Starbucks did not pursue any charges and the men were released from custody a few hours later.
After the incident, many protests broke out against Starbucks and “#BoycottStarbucks” went viral on social media.
“We thought long and hard about it, and we feel like this is the best way to see that change that we want to see,” said Robinson during an interview with Good Morning America.
Starbucks CEO Kevin John¬son visited the men in Philadelphia after the incident to address the situation and personally apologize.
“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,” said Johnson in a statement on the company website. “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.”
Starbucks made the decision to close over 8,000 company- owned stores on May 29 to conduct racial bias training in order to make everyone feel welcome and safe at Starbucks.
“What happened to those men was wrong, but it’s nice to see Starbucks stepping up and taking initiative to make a change,” said senior biology major, Sarah Simar. “It shows a lot of character what these two men decided to do about the situation and I think a lot of people can learn from it.”