PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The NAACP is speaking out following the controversial arrests of two black men at a Starbucks in Rittenhouse, Pennsylvania last week.
The NAACP says it wants Starbucks to fire the store manager after employees called police to say the men were trespassing.
The NAACP is asking Starbucks to issue an apology to the black community and the Philadelphia public. They are also asking the company review its existing policies.
Officials said police officers were told the men had asked to use the store’s restroom but were denied because they hadn’t bought anything and they refused to leave.
The arrest, which was captured on video that has since gone viral, sparked accusations of discrimination and racial profiling.
Police haven’t released the names of the men who were arrested and later released after the district attorney’s office said there was lack of evidence that a crime had been committed.
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson has called the arrests a “reprehensible outcome” and apologized repeatedly.
In his statement, Johnson outlined steps the company would take to ensure a greater “sense of community.”
Below is Johnson’s full statement:
Dear Starbucks Partners and Customers:
By now, you may be aware of a disheartening situation in one of our Philadelphia-area stores this past Thursday, that led to a reprehensible outcome.
I’m writing this evening to convey three things:
First, to once again express our deepest apologies to the two men who were arrested with a goal of doing whatever we can to make things right. Second, to let you know of our plans to investigate the pertinent facts and make any necessary changes to our practices that would help prevent such an occurrence from ever happening again. And third, to reassure you that Starbucks stands firmly against discrimination or racial profiling.
In the coming days, I will be joining our regional vice president, Camille Hymes — who is on the ground in Philadelphia — to speak with partners, customers and community leaders as well as law enforcement. Most importantly, I hope to meet personally with the two men who were arrested to offer a face-to-face apology.
We have immediately begun a thorough investigation of our practices. In addition to our own review, we will work with outside experts and community leaders to understand and adopt best practices. The video shot by customers is very hard to watch and the actions in it are not representative of our Starbucks Mission and Values. Creating an environment that is both safe and welcoming for everyone is paramount for every store. Regretfully, our practices and training led to a bad outcome — the basis for the call to the Philadelphia Police Department was wrong. Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did.
We also will further train our partners to better know when police assistance is warranted. Additionally, we will host a company-wide meeting next week to share our learnings, discuss some immediate next steps and underscore our long-standing commitment to treating one another with respect and dignity. I know our store managers and partners work hard to exceed our customers’ expectations every day — which makes this very poor reflection on our company all the more painful.
Finally, to our partners who proudly wear the green apron and to customers who come to us for a sense of community every day: You can and should expect more from us. We will learn from this and be better.
In an interview Monday on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Johnson said he hoped to meet with the two men in person to apologize face to face.
“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,” he said. “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.”
A spokesperson with Starbucks says Johnson is in Philadelphia and was scheduled to meet with the two men Monday morning.
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