Starbucks has been trying to clean up their public image following a controversial incident involving the arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia cafe back in April. Protests soon erupted, followed by calls for boycotts, prompting a swift response from Starbucks’ CEO and its executive chairman in an attempt to right the wrong. The coffee shop is set to close nationwide on May 29th for racial bias training, and the company has taken steps to change its policies about people hanging around cafes without purchasing items. According to the Associated Press, the hope is to avoid another incident at all costs:
Starbucks said it has told workers to consider anyone who walks into its stores a customer, “regardless of whether they make a purchase.”
The company said anyone can use its cafes, patios or restrooms without buying anything, but it noted workers should still call the police if someone is a safety threat.
“We are committed to creating a culture of warmth and belonging where everyone is welcome,” Starbucks said in a statement.
The two men arrested sat down with Good Morning America recently and said that this type of incident has been happening for a long time saying, “everyone’s blind to it, but they know what’s going on.” With everyone involved accepting blame, including Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross who accepted that he “failed miserably” in his messaging following the arrest.
None of this means we won’t see this type of incident play out in another place and in another city, but it is at least progress. Both men have already settled with Starbucks and the city, but this shows that the work isn’t over.