NEW: Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross: “I fully acknowledge that I played a significant role in making worse” incident surrounding Starbucks arrest.
“I should have said the officers acted within the scope of the law, and not that they didn’t do anything wrong.” pic.twitter.com/vPRZmCSmq3
— ABC News (@ABC) April 19, 2018
After controversy erupted when two black men were arrested last weekend at a Philly Starbucks, seemingly for doing nothing, Police Commissioner Richard Ross quickly defended his officers’ actions. The bigger issue in this incident revolves around why the Starbucks manager reportedly called police a mere two minutes after Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson entered, but Ross’ words didn’t help matters in the immediate aftermath. He initially stated that the officers “didn’t do anything wrong,” but in a Thursday press briefing, Ross admits that his words “played a significant role in making [the situation] worse.”
As Ross clarified, he now realizes that he “failed miserably” in his messaging and “should have said the officers acted within the scope of the law” instead. And bizarrely, Ross also appears to have had no idea that people regularly hang out in Starbucks as part of its business model:
“My lack of awareness of the Starbucks business model played a role in my messaging. This is apparently a well-known fact with Starbucks customers. That people spend long hours in Starbucks and aren’t necessarily expected to make a purchase … it is a widespread belief that everyone knows that about Starbucks. I did not, and it is also reasonable to believe that the officer didn’t know it either.”
Whether or not Ross and the officers were aware that people often sit around Starbucks for hours on end is one matter, and many people simply may not believe Ross. Yet the fallout remains, and for its part, Starbucks is attempting to make sure this never happens again by closing stores for an afternoon of racial-bias education on May 29. Starbucks Executive Chairman and founder Howard Schultz has admitted to feeling “ashamed” over these arrests and has “no doubt” that the manager was racially motivated to call police, and there’s a long road ahead to reconciliation.
(Via ABC News)