Starbucks is attempting to right a major wrong. On May 29, 8,000 Starbucks establishments will close in the country in order for roughly 175,000 employees to undergo racial bias training in light of the two black men that were arrested for doing absolutely nothing inside a Starbucks in Philadelphia.
“I’m affected by it and I’m going to fix it,” Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson told CNN. Johnson said that he met with the men that were arrested and had a very productive conversation with them about the discrimination they experienced on April 12. The arrest was captured on video and posted on Twitter, which went viral over the weekend.
“They didn’t deserve that,” Johnson said to CNN’s Don Lemon, and added that the arrest “should not have happened.”
In a press release, Johnson said: “I’ve spent the last few days in Philadelphia with my leadership team listening to the community, learning what we did wrong and the steps we need to take to fix it. While this is not limited to Starbucks, we’re committed to being a part of the solution. Closing our stores for racial bias training is just one step in a journey that requires dedication from every level of our company and partnerships in our local communities.”
Here’s how the training will take shape and the people that will be consulted: “The curriculum will be developed with guidance from several national and local experts confronting racial bias, including Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative; Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund; Heather McGhee, president of Demos; former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder; and Jonathan Greenblatt, ceo of the Anti-Defamation League. Starbucks will involve these experts in monitoring and reviewing the effectiveness of the measures we undertake.”
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross told ABC6 that the officers in the video did nothing wrong and adds he wish it hadn’t happened at all.
“They were really trying not to make an arrest in this case,” Ross said. “They, undoubtedly, had seen instances like this before with people being asked to leave and were accustomed to people just leaving. I just think for whatever reason they decided not to. But just the mere fact three different warnings suggests there wasn’t a rush to judgment.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) says that arrest like the one at the Starbucks happen very frequently especially in that part of Philadelphia. The ACLU reports that the black community makes up 67 percent of pedestrian stops in Philadelphia’s Ninth District in 2017, despite that the area’s population is only 3 percent black.
“Black Philadelphians face daily indignities when they are simply trying to go about their business,” Executive Director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania Reggie Shuford said in a statement. “This incident shows that black people can’t even ‘wait while black.'”