It has been reported that two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks were asked to leave while waiting for an acquaintance of theirs to show up. Apparently all three of them planned a business meeting of sorts and the two men showed up ahead of the third and decided to wait for him in the restaurant at a table before ordering anything. What ensued is that one of if not both of the men asked to use the restroom while they waited and neither had placed an order. The men refused to leave the Starbucks after being asked to leave if they were not going to place an order and that's when the police were called. Many are citing this as a racial issue and claiming that this would not have happened if the men were white.
The police did show up to the Starbucks and ended up arresting the two men for trespassing. It was reported that there were 8 police officers there that showed up and asked the men to leave. They refused and therefore were detained. They were escorted out in handcuffs as their third party showed up, Andrew Yaffe, a real estate investor, who was shocked and confused and explained the situation to the police that they were waiting for him. The two men were still arrested. Another patron video-taped the entire exchange, and posted it online, which later went viral with millions of views.
This incident has sparked outrage not only among Philadephia residents but citizens nationwide claiming it's an unfair treatment of people of color. The local Police Commissioner, Richard Ross spoke out stating that the police handled the situation appropriately. He said: “The police did not just happen upon this event — they did not just walk into Starbucks to get a coffee...They were called there, for a service, and that service had to do with quelling a disturbance, a disturbance that had to do with trespassing. These officers did absolutely nothing wrong.”
Starbucks issued a statement of their own as this was quickly turning into a PR nightmare. They expressed their regret about the whole incident in a statement that follows:
This whole incident sparks the question of whether you yourself have ever been asked to leave an establishment such as Starbucks for not ordering something while you waited for a friend. There are some of us who have been in the exact same situation and never asked to leave, which is why so many are claiming this is a "race thing" but is it? Was the Starbucks just really busy and they wanted their space available for their paying customers to sit down with a laptop, homework, a book, whatever and access their wifi and enjoy their products? Possibly. Was it a race issue? Doubtful but with the political climate we live in today, everything has turned into a race issue. Now sure we don't know the full story because we weren't there. Did these two gentlemen take offense that they were being asked to leave and automatically assumed it was because of their race? That's also possible. Was it the true motive of the calling manager/store to kick these men out because they were black. In my opinion, doubtful. Anyone who has been to a Starbucks, especially in a busy area of town, such as downtown or located near a student populated area, know that people seek out Starbucks for their good coffee but also their lounge space to be able to hang out and do work. Starbucks runs on the idea that people come to them for these reasons, that's why there are more stand alone stores without drive thrus than with. With that being said, most likely the reason they asked those gentlemen to leave was because they were actually turning away business for them, not because they were black. If the store actually told the men that they have to give space to paying customers and unless they are going to buy something then they have to leave, that's understandable for why they called the police. It's just as simple as that. That's just business not racism. Bottom line. It's all just another misunderstanding in a political climate that is so quick to cry "racist!". Do racist incidents happen? Of course, but is this one of them? I don't think so. I'd bet the same thing happens to those of other races including whites, it's just not widely publicized or made a big deal of. Heck, something similar has happened to me before as a white women where I've been questioned if I'm going to order something or else I need to make room for other customers so this happens to all types of people. I didn't put up a stink, I understood where they were coming from. If they asked me to leave, I would have or ordered something. Until we can prove that this was racist and not just Starbucks being busy and following their business model, let's not blow it out of proportion.