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.

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.

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.


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