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Published On: Thu, May 10th, 2018

Men Arrested at Starbucks Were There For a Business Meeting

Last week, two black men were arrested at a Starbucks in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square neighborhood. They say they were arrested within minutes of going into the coffee shop. Rishon Nelson and Donte Robinson described their arrest on Good Morning America this week. They said they were waiting to have a business meeting with a third person who had not yet arrived. They believe this business meeting had the potential to change their lives. They were asked if they wanted to order anything by the barista. They informed the barista they were there for a quick meeting and denied ordering anything at this time. They waited for a few minutes in Starbucks before a white store employee called 911 to have them removed. Rishon Nelson attempted to use the restroom but was told it was only for paying customers. Nelson and Robinson were very surprised when they suddenly saw police arrive at Starbucks. They saw the police speak with the manager very briefly. The police then approached their table and informed them that they had to leave immediately.  

photo Elvert Barnes

“I was thinking, they can’t be here for us,” Robinson said of the police. “It didn’t really hit me what was going on, that it was real, till I was being double-locked with my hands behind my back.”

Nelson and Robinson calmly told the police officers they were just waiting to have a meeting. They even insisted on calling the person they were planning to have a business meeting with. The police ignored them and continued to order them to leave the coffee shop.

“It’s a real estate meeting. We’ve been working on this for months,” Robinson said. “We’re days away from changing our whole entire situation, our lives, and you about to sit here telling me I can’t do that? You’re not doing that.”

Nelson and Robinson were caught off guard and arrested at Starbucks for trespassing. There were no charges filed. They were both handcuffed and escorted out of the coffee shop. The officers put them into the back of a squad car before taking them into the police station. Neither of them was read their Miranda rights. They then had to wait in custody for eight hours before being released. Law firms such as Mcquarrie could easily fight this case of discrimination against Starbucks and the store manager. They were both minding their own business before they were put behind bars for the excuse of trespassing. The trespassing and disturbance charges were dropped later that day.  

Melissa DePino witnessed and captured this incident on video, which accumulated over 10 million views on social media. The video of the incident has ignited protest online and gone viral on social media. People are calling for boycotts of Starbucks online after this incident. There have been protests outside of this Starbucks in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square neighborhood.  

The Philadelphia Police Commissioner, Richard Ross Jr., said in a video testimonial released Saturday that his officers were not in the wrong at all.  

“On three different occasions the officers asked the two males politely to leave the location because they were being asked to leave by employees because they were trespassing,” he said. “Instead the males continued to refuse as they had told the employees and they told the officers they were not leaving.” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross apologized Thursday to two black men who were arrested while waiting for a business meeting at Starbucks, saying he made the situation worse by initially defending his officers’ actions.

The CEO of Starbucks, Kevin Johnson, issued a statement on Saturday apologizing to the two young men. “Starbucks was built as a company that creates a warm, welcoming environment for all customers. That didn’t happen here in this case, I’ll say the circumstances surrounding the incident and the outcome at our store on Thursday were reprehensible,” he said. “They were wrong, and for that, I personally apologize to the gentlemen that visited our store.”  

Starbucks announced on GMA, that they would close more than 8,000 company-owned stores across the nation for the afternoon of May 29 to train its staff on how to avoid “racial bias” in an effort to prevent “discrimination in our stores.”  

(Source: Good Morning America)

Author: Dhahendra

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