Starbucks has been making headlines lately, but not for its coffee. After two black patrons were arrested in a Starbucks recently, the chain began a close examination of how employees handled complicated customer interactions, especially those where race is perceived to be a factor. Now Starbucks has reached a settlement with the two men at the center of this conversation.
“Two black men arrested for sitting at a Philadelphia Starbucks without ordering anything settled with the city Wednesday for a symbolic $1 each and a promise from officials to set up a $200,000 program for young entrepreneurs,” ABC reports.
“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,” Donte Robinson, one of men who was arrested said. “It’s not a right-now thing that’s good for right now, but I feel like we will see the true change over time.”
Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were arrested on April 12. While they hadn’t bought anything, they were waiting in the Starbucks for a friend. An employee accused them of trespassing, which touched a massive controversy after the two men were arrested.
In the end, the men were released from jail. No charges were filed. Yet the event highlighted Starbucks’ policies and turned into a public relations nightmare for the company.
“I am pleased to have resolved the potential claims against the city in this productive manner,” Mayor Jim Kenney said. “This was an incident that evoked a lot of pain in our city and put us under a national spotlight for unwanted reasons.”
The $200,000 will go to a program that encourages Philadelphia public high school students to become entrepreneurs.
Nelson, summarizing the incident, noted that it felt to him like he was in “the wrong place at the right time because of the outcome that can come out of it.”
For their part in the incident, the Philadelphia Police were at first defiant. Commissioner Richard Ross, who is himself black, defended his officers. Later, he revised his decision and apologized.
8,000 Starbucks stores will close on the afternoon of May 29 for bias training for nearly 175,000 employees.
This is an uncut video of the incident. The arrest happens several minutes in, but the tensions are evident from the beginning.