PHILADELPHIA (CBSNewYork/CBS Philly) — Starbucks on Saturday issued an apology two days after a pair of black men were arrested inside one of the coffee chain’s Philadelphia locations.
Video of the incident has since gone viral.
On Thursday, police were called to a Starbucks located at the corner of 18th and Spruce Streets in Center City.
According to CBS Philly, witnesses say the men claimed they were waiting to meet their friend inside the store when employees asked them to leave.
After refusing to do so, the store’s employees called police for assistance. Witnesses posted video of the alleged incident on Twitter.
“What did they do,” one man can be heard saying in a video captured by Melissa DePino.
The video then shows several officers taking the men into custody.
According to DePino, “they were waiting for a friend to show up, who did as they were taken out in handcuffs for doing nothing.”
The incident prompted the Philadelphia Police Department to announce Friday they were launching an internal investigation into the officers’ conduct.
In a Saturday Facebook Live post, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross says when officers arrived at the Starbucks on Thursday they were met by employees who said the men were “trespassing and refused to leave the establishment.”
Ross said according to employees, the men asked to use the restroom without purchasing anything.
Starbucks’ company policy does not grant restroom access to non-paying customers, according to Ross.
“In an effort to quell the situation, the officers actually called for a supervisor so that it would not get out of hand,” Ross said. “Three different occasions, the officers asked the males politely to leave because they were being asked by employees to leave because they were trespassing.”
Instead, according to Ross, the men once again refuse to leave and told the officers as much. It was at that point that the men were taken into custody.
“I need to underscore the fact that these males were arrested,” Ross said. “When they were arrested, they were taken out essentially without incident. There was no harm done to them.”
By the time the men arrived at the nearby police district for processing, Ross says police were informed that the employees at Starbucks were no longer interested in pressing charges.
At that point, Ross says the men were released from custody.
Starbucks took to Twitter to offer an apology to the “two individuals” and customers who were present, and said they were “disappointed this led to an arrest.”
“We take these matters seriously and clearly have more work to do when it comes to how we handle incidents in our stores,” the company said in a statement. “We are reviewing our policies and will continue to engage with the community and the police department to try to ensure these types of situations never happen in any of our stores.”
Late Saturday night, CEO Kevin Johnson shared a longer statement, which read in part, “I’m writing this evening to convey three things: First, to once again express our deepest apologies to the two men who were arrested with a goal of doing whatever we can to make things right. Second, to let you know of our plans to investigate the pertinent facts and make any necessary changes to our practices that would help prevent such an occurrence from ever happening again. And third, to reassure you that Starbucks stands firmly against discrimination or racial profiling.”
Click here to read the full statement.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said he’s “very concerned by the incident at Starbucks.”
“I know Starbucks is reviewing it and we will be too,” Kenney posted to Twitter Saturday.
Commissioner Ross maintains that responding officers did nothing wrong during the Thursday arrest.
“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,” he said. “I will say as an African American male, I am very aware of implicit bias. We are committed to fair and unbiased policing, and anything less than that will not be tolerated in this department.
The original video of the arrest has since gone viral with over three and a half million views.
The names of the men taken into custody weren’t immediately known.