A video of two black men being arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks for refusing to leave after being asked to by police has elicited a statement from the mayor and an apology from Starbucks.
The men wanted to use the restroom at the store but, following established policy, were refused by employees because the men had not made a purchase. When the men refused to leave, employees called 9/11. Still refusing to leave when police ordered them off the premises, they were arrested.
The police commissioner says the officers did nothing wrong and acted professionally at all times.
Ross, who is black, said police asked the men to leave three times but they refused. They were then arrested, but later released after the company elected not to prosecute. He said the officers “did absolutely nothing wrong” and were professional in their conduct toward the two men but “got the opposite back.” He did not mention the man who said he was meeting with the other two men.
“As an African American male, I am very aware of implicit bias; we are committed to fair and unbiased policing,” Ross said. But, he added, “If a business calls and they say that ‘someone is here that I no longer wish to be in my business,’ [officers] now have a legal obligation to carry out their duties, and they did just that.”
It sounds pretty cut and dried. Tens of thousands of retail outlets across the country — especially convenience stores and gas stations — have the exact same policy. It’s a sensible policy because it prevents loitering. In high-crime areas especially, the policy is important to prevent criminal activity from occurring.
But Starbucks refused to defend their own policy and offered an apology:
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
The men were not drunk and not really “disorderly” in a legal sense of the word. They didn’t resist arrest. The sole reason for their arrest was that they refused to obey a perfectly lawful order by police.
But the color of the men’s skin overrides any and all logical, reasonable explanations, so the online racialists can exercise full-throated outrage.
Starbucks’ policy will likely be changed as a result of this incident. It remains to be seen if that’s a good idea and whether paying customers suffer as a result.