In mid-April, the wrongful arrest of two black men sitting in a Philadelphia Starbucks sparked outrage and ignited a conversation about racial discrimination. In the days after Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were hauled out of the store wearing handcuffs, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson apologized to them and announced that 8,000 Starbucks stores would be closing on May 29th for racial sensitivity training. And now, Nelson and Robinson have reached a settlement with the city of Philadelphia — and they used the opportunity to give back to the community.
According to the Washington Post, the two men opted not to sue the city of Philadelphia and instead settled today, May 2nd, receiving $1 each. In lieu of a greater monetary settlement, Nelson and Robinson requested that Philadelphia set aside $200,000 to create a fund for high school students who wish to become entrepreneurs.
“We thought long and hard about it and we feel like this is the best way to see that change that we want to see,” Robinson told the Associated Press. “It’s not a right-now thing that’s good for right now, but I feel like we will see the true change over time.”
In addition to their settlement, the two will have their arrest record wiped clean.
Robinson and Nelson have also reached a settlement with Starbucks, which the company stated “will contain a financial settlement as well as continued listening and dialogue between the parties.”
The settlement reached by the two men is fitting, given that Nelson and Robinson are entrepreneurs themselves. When they were arrested at Starbucks, the pair had been waiting to meet with a business associate to discuss an opportunity in real estate. In an appearance on Good Morning America after the incident, Nelson talked about how upset he felt that their meeting was interrupted.
“We’ve been working on this for months,” he said on GMA. “We’re days away from changing our whole entire situation, our lives, and you about to sit here telling me I can’t do that? You’re not doing that.”
The arrest of Robinson and Nelson was appalling. And while this settlement with Philadelphia won’t undo the pain they have endured, we applaud these two men for using a bad situation to help others.