(EDITOR’S NOTE, 2:16 PM EDT, 4/14/18: This article has been amended to include statements from both the Starbucks Media Relations department and the Philadelphia Police Department’s public affairs office.)
A video circulating on Twitter shows Philadelphia police officers arresting two black men at a Starbucks on Thursday while eyewitnesses protested.
In the 45-second video, the two men are silently cooperating with the arrest, while eyewitnesses are asking the police why they’re cuffing them and escorting them out of the store.
“This is ridiculous,” a white witness is seen saying to one of the officers. “What did they get called for? Two black guys sitting here meeting? What did they do? What did they do? Tell me what they did.”
“We got called. We didn’t just come out here,” the officer is heard saying in response.
“They didn’t do anything, I saw the entire thing,” the person filming is heard saying off-camera, adding that she overheard a female Starbucks employee telling the two men the tables were for paying customers only.
@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
Novelist Melissa DePino, who posted the video to her Twitter account, said it happened at the Starbucks location on 18th and Spruce Streets in Center City, Philadelphia, which is just two blocks away from Rittenhouse Square.
“I just heard they were released at 130am last night,” DePino tweeted in response to the video on Friday afternoon. “They are real estate brokers and were at Starbucks to meet their family friend.”
“They weren’t doing anything but sitting waiting for their friend. There were lots of witnesses,” she added.
“We apologize to the two individuals and our customers, and we’re actually really disappointed this led to an arrest,” a Starbucks spokesperson told Grit Post in a phone interview. “We take these matters seriously and we clearly have more work to do when it comes to how we handle incidents in our stores.”
In an email, the Philadelphia Police Department’s public affairs office told Grit Post they were aware of the arrest at the store on 18th and Spruce.
“The entire incident, including the actions of the responding officers, is under internal investigation,” police stated.
Michael Boone is a freelance journalist and columnist writing about politics, government, race, and media. He graduated from Texas Southern University’s School of Communication, and lives in Houston’s Third Ward.