Following the arrest of two black men in a Philadelphia Starbucks on Saturday, seemingly for the crime of sitting at a table without ordering anything and wanting to use the restroom, Black Lives Matter protests have broken out. On Sunday around noon, demonstrators showed up with megaphones and signs blazing messages such as “Too Little Too Latte,” and “#Enough/Shame On Your Starbucks,” and are expected to resume Monday. The hashtag #BoycottStarbucks was likewise trending on social media over the weekend, as the company scrambles to do damage control.
One witness to the incident in the Starbucks, located at 18th and Spruce streets in Center City Philadelphia, Michelle Saahene spoke with NBC News about what she saw on Saturday.
“The women [additional witnesses] were shocked because the gentlemen getting arrested were so calm, the whole time. They kept their calm, they didn’t talk back, they were completely compliant and they said ‘we would have been flipping out.’ And I said well, ‘They’re black. They can’t flip out. That can literally mean the end of their life.’”
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has come forward to condemn the arrest, tweeting Saturday that he was “very concerned” by the incident. “I know Starbucks is reviewing it and we will be too. @PhillyPolice is conducting an internal investigation,” he wrote.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross is calling the whole thing “unfortunate.” “Wish it hadn’t happened from start to finish,” he told 6 ABC News Monday morning. “Obviously, there are parts of it that are still under investigation, but we’ve been talking to Starbucks. I had a call from their CEO, as a matter of fact, yesterday.”
Starbucks is still investigating exactly why police were called to the scene in the first place, however the manager who allegedly made the call is no longer employed at the company.