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An employee at a Starbucks coffee shop in Brandon, Florida is accused of racially profiling a black customer who used the restroom before ordering coffee.

Lorne Green, who is African American, said that not long after he walked into the Starbucks, he heard a worker say “there’s a big black guy headed to the restroom,” and that almost immediately after closing the restroom door, there was an “incessant knocking” on the door with the employee asking over and over if Green needed fire and rescue services.

While the knocking continued, Green called Starbucks’ corporate office in Seattle, Washington, and told them he believed he was being harassed because of his race. Both Green and Starbucks recorded the call.

“So you feel like this is racially motivated, correct?” The Starbucks representative said.

“It is very because I walked in and she immediately — in not even five minutes — she goes, ‘a black male went inside,’ and called the police on me before I even got in the bathroom,” Green said in response.

When the police arrived, they issued Green a citation for trespassing. However, Green’s attorney, Jasmine Rand, told local media that her client plans to sue Starbucks and contest the trespassing violation. Rand cited an incident in April of 2018, in which a Philadelphia Starbucks employee called the police on two black customers who were waiting at a table for a friend to arrive. That incident led to Starbucks shutting down all of their stories to conduct a day-long diversity training session for its employees.

Starbucks’ corporate office issued a statement saying it will “always strive to create a warm environment where everyone feels welcome.”

“We have zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind and take this type of accusation very seriously,” the spokesperson stated. “We are conducting an investigation to understand what happened and will take appropriate action.”

 

Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.

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