A video showing two black men getting arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks store has gone viral, and the hashtag #BoycottStarbucks is now currently trending.
Video of the controversial arrest, which took place on Wednesday, was posted to Twitter by novelist Melissa DePino. According to DePino, the two men were waiting at one of the tables in the store for a friend to arrive. In the video itself, the two men are being put in cuffs while bystanders ask police why they’re being arrested. In a followup tweet, DePino said the office of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner declined to arraign the two men, and they were subsequently released from police custody at approximately 2 AM EDT early Friday morning.
@Starbucks The police were called because these men hadn’t ordered anything. They were waiting for a friend to show up, who did as they were taken out in handcuffs for doing nothing. All the other white ppl are wondering why it’s never happened to us when we do the same thing. pic.twitter.com/0U4Pzs55Ci
— Melissa DePino (@missydepino) April 12, 2018
— Melissa DePino (@missydepino) April 14, 2018
A Starbucks spokesperson told Grit Post on Saturday that the company was “really disappointed” the incident ended in arrest after an employee at the store on 18th and Spruce Streets in Center City called police on the two men.
“We take these matters seriously and we clearly have more work to do when it comes to how we handle incidents in our stores,” the spokesperson, who asked to have their name withheld, said in a phone interview.
Despite the apology, there are enough Twitter users tweeting the #BoycottStarbucks hashtag to make it a trending topic as of 7:40 PM EDT. Author and activist Jose Antonio Vargas tweeted that even as a “loyal customer,” he would be boycotting the company until Starbucks properly addressed the matter by engaging with communities and proposing a direct plan of action. Others are promising to give their business to local coffee shops, and some are simply proposing to do what the two men arrested did — go in a Starbucks, sit at a table, and not order anything.
This apology is grossly insufficient. Address this head-on. Execute a plan of action. Engage your communities. Otherwise, you just lost yet another customer, and I've been a loyal customer for decades.#BoycottStarbucks #RaceTogether https://t.co/YJfuUE0T9Y
— Jose Antonio Vargas (@joseiswriting) April 14, 2018
How about #BoycottStarbucks by going in, sitting down and not ordering anything.
— Seriously? (@norcalpackerfan) April 14, 2018
After seeing the video I can’t believe Starbucks didn’t take a bigger stand for their employees poor actions.
There are plenty of local coffee shops who will get my business. #BoycottStarbucks
— Tony Posnanski (@tonyposnanski) April 14, 2018
I am 100% confident that as a white man in America, I could go to any coffeeshop and sit for two hours without ordering anything and the police would not be called. 100%.#BoycottStarbucks
— JRehling (@JRehling) April 14, 2018
Never in my life have I feared being arrested for sitting in any restaurant, especially if I say I'm waiting for someone. When people have to worry about driving, walking, talking, or sitting while black, things need to drastically change. @Starbucks fix this! #BoycottStarbucks
— Amanda Blount (@amandablount2) April 14, 2018
Walking while Black.
Kneeling while Black.
Using a cell phone while Black.
Driving while Black.
And now…waiting in Starbucks while Black.
This shit MUST stop.
Those men need to be compensated for that ordeal, @Starbucks.
Fire the employee.
— BrooklynDad_Defiant! (@mmpadellan) April 14, 2018
Calling the police to arrest two black guys just for being there is not an “incident.” It’s racism at its ugliest level. And it should have no place in America.
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) April 14, 2018
I don't like their coffee, so I can't really #BoycottStarbucks but how about we all just go in and sit down without ordering and wait to get arrested?
— Elle Dee (@GrammyElleDee) April 14, 2018
— Amee Vanderpool (@girlsreallyrule) April 14, 2018
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross justified the arrests by saying the two men were arrested only after store employees asked them to leave three times. One of the men tried to use the restroom, but was denied because he hadn’t bought anything. Ross told CBS News the arresting officers “absolutely did nothing wrong” in their response.
In an email, the Philadelphia Police Department’s office of public affairs told Grit Post the arrest and the officers’ actions were both under internal investigation, but offered no further details.
Jake Shepherd is a freelance writer from Cleveland, Ohio. He enjoys poring through financial disclosure statements, spirited debate, and good scotch. He remains eternally optimistic about the Browns. Email him at jake.d.shepherd.21 (at) hotmail (dot) com.