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16th Apr 2018

Starbucks CEO speaks out after his company is accused of ‘racial discrimination’

Tony Cuddihy


An incident recorded last week went viral amid accusations of racial profiling against Starbucks and police in Philadelphia.

Kevin R Johnson, the Chief Executive of Starbucks, has spoken out after an employee at one of the chain’s Philadelphia outlets called the police to arrest two black men, despite a lack of evidence that any crime had been committed.

The incident took place last week and saw the hashtag #BoycottStarbucks begin trending on social media. The two men were meeting a white man, Andrew Yaffe, who called the episode ‘ridiculous’ and asked on what grounds the men were being led away in handcuffs.

“Starbucks stands firmly against discrimination or racial profiling,” said Johnson.

“Regretfully, our practices and training led to a bad outcome – the basis for the call to the Philadelphia Police Department was wrong. Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did.”

Police commissioner Richard Ross Jnr – whose office admitted there was no basis for an arrest – still insisted that his officers had a legal basis to make the arrests.

“These officers had legal standing to make this arrest,” 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.

“I will say that as an African-American male, I am very aware of implicit bias,” he continued. “We are committed to fair and unbiased policing, and anything less than that will not be tolerated in this department.”

“I know our store managers and partners work hard to exceed our customers’ expectations every day, which makes this very poor reflection on our company all the more painful,” Johnson added in his statement.

“You can and should expect more from us. We will learn from this and be better.”

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