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Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson apologized over the weekend after two African American men were arrested at one of his company’s Philadelphia stores and charged with trespassing - even though they said they were just waiting for a friend to arrive before ordering.

The friend they were waiting for - who is white - reportedly has corroborated their story.

The police were called by Starbucks employees, who told police responding to a 911 call that the men had been told that the bathroom only was for customers, and that they refused to leave when asked to do so.

Reuters reports that Johnson has promised an investigation and expressed chagrin at the video of the arrests that were shot by customers and posted online, describing it as “very hard to watch. The actions shown in the video, he said, “are not representative of our Starbucks mission and values … The basis for the call to the Philadelphia police department was wrong.” And, Johnson has promised a system-wide effort to retain store employees to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Reports suggest that the police did nothing wrong, and that they behaved professionally when dealing with the men and appropriately in responding to the call from store employees.
KC's View:
Johnson appears to be doing exactly the right thing, responding to the incident as soon as he marshaled as many facts as he could.

I have no idea what happened in the store. But I do know this - the odds are overwhelming that if I had asked to use Starbucks’ restroom, which I have innumerable times, the assumption would’ve been made that I was a customer. If I’d then sat down with a friend - which I have, many times, waiting for someone else to join us - the odds are overwhelming that I never would’ve been questioned.

This can be a teachable moment. I hope that’s how Starbucks treats it - not just in Philadelphia, but throughout its system.