Philadelphia’s police chief defended the arrest of two black police officers at Starbucks on Saturday, triggering racist accusations on social media, concerns of the mayor and company apologies.
The online release of the video showed that the agency staff in downtown handcuffed men on Thursday. A white man was heard in the video saying that he was meeting with a man and said that the arrest was “ridiculous.”
Commissioner Richard Rose said Starbucks employees called 911 that these men were illegally invaded.
He said officials were told that these men came in and asked to use the restroom but they were rejected because they did not buy anything because he said it was company policy. He said they then refused to leave.
Ross is black. He said that the police demanded that these men leave three times.
However, they refused. They were later arrested, but later the company chose not to prosecute and was released.
He said that these officers are “absolutely not wrong” and are very professional in their personal behavior but “opposite.” He did not mention that he was meeting with men.
“As an African-American male, I understand implicit prejudices and we are committed to impartial and unbiased security,” Ross said.
But he added: “If a company calls to say they say ‘someone is here, I don’t want to participate in my business’ (officials) now have a legal obligation to perform their duties, they just do it.”
@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
On Saturday, Starbucks posted an apology statement on Twitter, saying that the company “was disappointed with the arrests” and was reviewing its policies.
The company said in a statement on Saturday afternoon, “We take these issues seriously and obviously have more work to do so we can handle the incident in the shop.”
Rose said he did not patronize Starbucks, but recalled an incident that occurred a few years ago when a uniformed sergeant was refused entry to the Starbucks toilet “so their policy is at least the same.”
Mayor Jim Kenny said that he asked the Municipal Human Resources Committee to review the company’s policies and procedures, “including the extent or need for implicit bias training of employees.”
“I am heartbroken to see Philadelphia in the headlines for an incident that — at least based on what we know at this point — appears to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018,” Kenney said in a statement.
We apologize to the two individuals and our customers for what took place at our Philadelphia store on Thursday. pic.twitter.com/suUsytXHks
— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) April 14, 2018
Kenney said a review promised by police of policies in similar situations “is fully warranted given the unfortunate outcome of this event, particularly at a time when our criminal justice reform efforts are focused on avoiding needless incarcerations.”
Attorney Lauren Wimmer told The Philadelphia Inquirer that the men, who she did not identify, were commercial real estate professionals and were meeting with the another man to discuss business. She identified herself as a friend of the man they were meeting with.
A spokesman for the district attorney’s office said the two black men were released “because of lack of evidence” that a crime had been committed, but declined further comment, citing a police investigation.