Starbucks has apologized after a boycott erupted over a video of two black men being arrested inside a Philadelphia store, which led to accusations of racism on social media.
As viral videos of the incident show, officers handcuffed the two men in a Starbucks location in Philadelphia’s downtown district on Thursday.
At one point in the video, a white man can be heard explaining that he was meeting with the men and describing the arrest situation with police officers as “ridiculous.”
Police Commissioner Richard Ross said in a Facebook video that employees at the coffee store called 911 to report two men who were trespassing. Ross explained that the officers were told the two men requested to use the restroom when they came into the store but were denied because they hadn’t made a purchase — a company policy. Ross said the men refused to leave, even when police asked them to depart the premises three times, and that the officers “did absolutely nothing wrong.”
“As an African American male, I am very aware of implicit bias; we are committed to fair and unbiased policing,” Ross said. “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.”
“We apologize to the two individuals and our customers and are disappointed this led to an arrest,” Starbucks said in a statement shared on Twitter Saturday. “We take these matters seriously and clearly have more work to do when it comes to how we handle incidents in our stores. We are reviewing our policies and will continue to engage with the community and the police department to try to ensure these types of situations never happen in any of our stores.”
Still, as of Saturday evening, #BoycottStarbucks remained a top trending topic on Twitter.
Starbucks previously faced controversy in February, when a couple sued the company and alleged that they received a Frappuccino with a barista’s blood on it.