Following the arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks location, and the ensuing protests, the Seattle-based coffee giant will temporarily shutter all of its company-owned stores in the United States for a “racial bias education day.” The 8,000-plus locations will go dark the afternoon of May 29, the company announced Tuesday.
“I’ve spent the last few days in Philadelphia with my leadership team listening to the community, learning what we did wrong and the steps we need to take to fix it,” Starbucks chief executive officer Kevin Johnson said in a press release. “While this is not limited to Starbucks, we’re committed to being a part of the solution. Closing our stores for racial bias training is just one step in a journey that requires dedication from every level of our company and partnerships in our local communities.”
During the incident last week, two men were waiting for a friend to arrive at the Starbucks in question and had not ordered anything. After the manager called the police, they were arrested for trespassing. The men remained in police custody for around eight hours until they were released with no charges, Per NBC.
In the wake of the backlash, Johnson appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America on Monday, announcing his employees would undergo unconscious bias training. The same day, he met with the two men face-to-face in Philadelphia, in order to apologize and “invite them to be part of helping me in a constructive way to ensure this never happens again,” according to NBC.
Starbucks says the curriculum for the education day will be developed by a group that includes representatives from the Equal Justice Initiative, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the Anti-Defamation League, as well as former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
“We will learn from our mistakes and reaffirm our commitment to creating a safe and welcoming environment for every customer,” Starbucks executive chairman and former CEO Howard Schultz said in the release.
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