On Thursday, April 12, two black men were arrested at a Starbucks in Philadelphia. The men entered the Starbucks and asked to use the bathroom. A Starbucks employee reportedly told the men the bathroom was for customers only. When the men sat down, the manager called the police, and the pair was arrested for trespassing.
That Saturday night, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson publicly apologized for the apparent racially motivated arrest. Johnson’s statement described the events as “reprehensible,” and that “Starbucks stands firmly against discrimination or racial profiling.” In an interview with ABC’s Good Morning America the following Monday, Johnson said he wanted to apologize to the men in person:
“I’d like to have a dialogue with them so that I can ensure that we have opportunity to really understand the situation and show some compassion and empathy for the experience they went through. Finally, as we’re working to solve this, I’d like to invite them to join me in finding a constructive way to solve this issue,” Johnson stated.
Johnson seems to be putting an emphasis on doing right by the situation. He quickly responded with a public apology and sat down for an interview with Good Morning America. Although a company spokesperson declined to disclose details of the meeting, Johnson reportedly met with the two men on Monday, April 16.
Many Starbucks locations have been experiencing protests. Johnson continues to promise to do “whatever we can to make things right.” He appears committed to taking a stand against discrimination and racial profiling in stores worldwide. Tuesday afternoon, Starbucks released another statement, this time affirming that it will be closing more than 8,000 stores in the United States on the afternoon of Tuesday, May 29, when workers will receive racial-bias education training, addressing implicit bias, promoting conscious inclusion, and preventing discrimination.