Two black men were arrested and escorted out of a Philadelphia Starbucks on Thursday after staff called the police to report they refused to leave; the men hadn’t ordered anything and were reportedly waiting for a business associate to arrive. The staff reportedly called 911 because Starbucks does “not allow nonpaying people from the public to come in and use the restroom,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross told the Philadelphia Inquirer. The employees said the men were trespassing and had refused to leave the restaurant.
A video of the incident has swept across the internet and sparked widespread outrage, prompting Starbucks to issue a less-than-satisfying apology on Saturday afternoon. CEO Kevin Johnson issued a lengthy statement on the incident on Saturday evening and said he wants to meet personally with the men arrested to apologize.
The saga began when a video posted on Twitter on Tuesday showed police arresting two black men in Twitter for “doing nothing,” in the words of the user who posted the video. Two people — not the men — can be heard protesting as the police remove the men’s chairs and escort them out. “This is ridiculous,” one white man says to an officer in the video. The men do not protest.
Police responded to the call and to keep things from “getting out of hand,” he said, and asked the men to leave, as Starbucks did not want them there. Ross defended the officers, saying they “did absolutely nothing wrong,” but the police department said it was conducting an “internal investigation.”