Protesters Shout Down Executive Amid Starbucks Efforts to Appease Black Lives Matter
Last week, a Starbucks employee in Philadelphia called the police on two black men who had not ordered anything and reportedly refused to leave. The police arrested the men, leading to a national outcry and protests outside the Philadelphia location. On Sunday, protesters entered the store en masse and shouted down a regional vice president, even going so far as to insist that they would leave only when they wanted to leave.
When Starbucks regional vice president Camille Hymes attempted to speak with Black Lives Matter activist Asa Khalif, the activist shouted over her into the microphone and "mansplained" her to the crowd.
"I'm the regional vice president," Hymes said. Khalif immediately blared into his bullhorn, "We have the regional vice president here!" Activists inside the Starbucks angrily demanded to see the employee who had called the police. "Can I see you?! Let us see you!"
Khalif told Hymes "one second," and blared, "We want the manager fired! We know that she's still here. We want the manager fired. We have the regional manager for Starbucks standing next to me, she identified herself. I hope that she can announce to us that the racist manager has been fired."
Hymes, finally given an instant to respond, proved courteous to a fault. "I really thank you for a peaceful protest. I respect..." she said, and they shook hands. As Hymes introduced herself, activists yelled for her to speak up, and one shouted, "Profiling!"
Hymes said she "deeply regretted" the arrest of the black men, and then she went on to explain the local branch's policy. "We instituted a practice of what we call 'safe and welcome,' and so for all of the non-customers, we've asked them not to use our restrooms. And that is for all customers," she said.
Protesters loudly interrupted, "No, it's not!" Speak the truth, speak the truth!"
"What I will say is that we would love to meet those two men and personally apologize," she added. Khalif tried to interrupt, but she continued, "And I know the question has come up in terms of whether or not the manager should be fired."
"She should be fired!" one protester loudly interrupted. "No question about it. Let's give her some training!"
Hymes attempted to take responsibility for the manager's error, saying, "We put her in a position that did not allow her to be set up for success — or those two men."
Immediately more protesters cut her off. "She failed them!" "She got a picture in the system!" "She failed them! She failed them!"
Khalif then proceeded to speak over her, laying out his demands. "I appreciate your coming and speaking. But the only demand we have is two, we want the manager fired," the Black Lives Matter activist declared. "Let her train somewhere else, but she must be fired, because before you can have any healing, there has to be consequences for her actions. When you call law enforcement on black and brown bodies they are met with aggression and violence and you know that. So we cannot overshadow that. We cannot overlook that."