In the wake of protests spurred by the arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks, the coffee giant is attempting to recover from its public relations nightmare. CEO Kevin Johnson appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America on Monday, apologizing for the “reprehensible” incident and saying that store managers will undergo unconscious bias training in order “to ensure that doesn’t happen again.”
Johnson met with the two men face-to-face on Monday in Philadelphia, according to NBC. “I would like the opportunity to apologize to them face to face and I’d like to have a dialogue with them and the opportunity to listen to them with compassion and empathy,” Johnson said in an interview with the Associated Press earlier on Monday, adding, “and finally I’d like to invite them to be part of helping me in a constructive way to ensure this never happens again.” Starbucks confirmed the meeting occurred but did not provide any details on what was discussed.
Johnson said he had watched video footage of the arrest that was posted by a Starbucks customer to social media, and called it “very hard to watch.” The two men were waiting on a friend to arrive and had not yet ordered anything; after the manager called the police, they were arrested for trespassing. Per NBC, the men remained in police custody for around eight hours until they were released with no charges.
Protestors have demanded that the store manager who called the police be fired, but Starbucks has yet to comment on whether or not they’ve let the employee go. A company spokesperson did say that the employee no longer works at that particular store.
• Starbucks CEO Meets With Two Black Men Arrested in Philadelphia Store [NBC]
• Arrest of Black Men at Starbucks Spurs Outrage on Social Media [E]