The CEO of Starbucks is apologizing after two black men were arrested at a coffee shop in Philadelphia after store employees called 911 to say they were trespassing.
The entire incident was caught on video.
“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,” CEO Kevin Johnson wrote in a statement.
“The video shot by customers is very hard to watch and the actions in it are not representative of our Starbucks Mission and Values,” he continued.
The video shows the two men surrounded by police in the Center City Starbucks.
One officer asked a man whether he is “with these gentlemen.” The man, Andrew Yaffe, said he was and called the incident “ridiculous.”
“What did they get called for?” Yaffe, who is white, asked the police. “Because there are two black guys sitting here meeting me?”
Police have not released the names of the men who were arrested.
According to reports, the two men met at the coffeehouse Thursday. One of the men asked to use the restroom, but an employee denied the request saying they had not bought anything.
They were eventually asked to leave the location but refused and the employee called the police.
“I’ve gone into this very Starbucks and asked to use the bathroom code. Got the bathroom code, used the bathroom, said thank you and left. I did not get arrested,” said one Philadelphia woman.
Officers went to the store after Starbucks employees called 911 to report the men were trespassing, said Police Commissioner Richard Ross.
“These officers had legal standing to make this arrest,” Commissioner Ross said. “These officers did absolutely nothing wrong. They followed policy, they did what they were supposed to do, they were professional in all their dealings with these gentlemen — and instead, they got the opposite back.”
The two men were released from police custody because Starbucks did not want to press charges.
The incident has sparked national outrage and over the weekend protestors have called for the firing of the employee who called the police.
Mr. Johnson said he wants to personally apologize to the two men. He also offered to investigate the incident and to “make any necessary changes to our practices that would help prevent such an occurrence from ever happening again.”
Starbucks markets itself as a community gathering spot as well as a coffee house for its 28,000 chain stores.