The Starbucks CEO apologized for the “reprehensible” arrest of two black customers, and it’s a good start

Starbucks has been steeped in controversy before, and now it’s facing backlash again. Yesterday, April 14th, news that two black men had been arrested at a Philadelphia-area Starbucks led to outraged Twitter users calling to #BoycottStarbucks. Now, the Starbucks CEO has issued a statement apologizing for the incident.

Video of the arrest sparked anger yesterday when it went viral. In the video, which was shared on Twitter, the two men were shown being handcuffed and escorted from the store, while a white customer asked the officers repeatedly “What did they do?”

Last night, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson issued a statement addressed to Starbucks customers and employees on the company’s website. Johnson’s statement expanded upon a preliminary apology that Starbucks’ official Twitter account had posted earlier in the day. Johnson called the arrest a situation that “led to a reprehensible outcome” and reaffirmed that Starbucks is against racial discrimination.

"By now, you may be aware of a disheartening situation in one of our Philadelphia-area stores this past Thursday, that led to a reprehensible outcome," Johnson's statement began.

Johnson continued by writing  that he would apologize in person to the two men who were arrested. He said that an investigation of the incident was under way and blamed the action taken by the Starbucks employees who called the police on Starbucks policies. He added that the store manager had never intended for the police to be called.

"Regretfully, our practices and training led to a bad outcome—the basis for the call to the Philadelphia police department was wrong," Johnson wrote. "Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did. We also will further train our partners to better know when police assistance is warranted."

According to CNBC, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross responded to the situation by saying that his officers hadn’t done anything wrong. In a video statement, he said that police had been called to the scene because of a 911 call reporting “a disturbance and trespassing.”

The arrest of these two men is, as Johnson acknowledged, something that should never have happened. And while we’re glad to see the Starbucks CEO apologize, it’s still disappointing to see a company known for its progressive policies involved in an issue of discrimination. We hope that, in the future, Starbucks will work to be better.

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