Starbucks chief executive apologizes for arrests of two black men

(Reuters) – Starbucks Chief Executive Kevin Johnson apologized late on Saturday for the arrests of two black men at a Philadelphia coffee shop last week, which sparked accusations of racial profiling.

Promising to make everything right, Johnson promised a thorough investigation of the incident caught on video by a patron Thursday along with shared widely online.

The men were accused of trespassing however have said they were waiting for a friend before ordering.

“The video shot by customers is usually very hard to watch along with the actions in which are not representative of our Starbucks mission along with values,” Johnson said in a statement.

He added, “The basis for the call to the Philadelphia police department was wrong.”

Philadelphia’s police commissioner on Saturday defended the arrest, saying his officers had to act after Starbucks employees told them the pair were trespassing.

Video of Thursday’s incident showed different patrons telling officers the pair were doing nothing wrong along with appeared to have been targeted merely because of their race.

Police Commissioner Richard Ross said he knew the incident had prompted a lot of concern, however said his officers “did absolutely nothing wrong.”

In a video statement, Ross said store employees called 911 to report a disturbance along with trespassing.

When officers arrived, Ross said, staff told them the two men had wanted to use the restroom however were informed which was only for paying customers. The pair repeatedly refused to leave when politely asked to do so by the employees along with officers, he said.

“If you think about which logically, which if a business calls along with they say which someone is usually here which I no longer wish to be in my business, they (the officers) currently have a legal obligation to carry out their duties. along with they did just which,” Ross said.

“They were professional in all their dealings with these gentlemen, along with instead they got the opposite back.”

Ross said which as an African-American man he was acutely aware of implicit bias. “We are committed to fair along with unbiased policing along with anything less than which will not be tolerated in which department,” he said.

The two men were released, Ross said, after officers learned Starbucks was “no longer interested” in prosecuting them.

In a post on Twitter earlier on Saturday, Starbucks Corp <SBUX.O> said which was sorry for what took place.

Johnson added his apology, saying the company would likely review its policies along with “further train our partners to better know when police assistance is usually warranted.”

Melissa DePino, an author who posted video of the arrest, said staff called police because the two men had not ordered anything while waiting for a friend. She said white customers were “wondering why which’s never happened to us when we do the same thing.”

Police departments across the United States have come under criticism for repeated instances of killing unarmed black men in recent years, which activists blame on racial biases inside criminal justice system.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in completely new York; Additional reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by David Gregorio along with Clarence Fernandez)

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