Kenney on Starbucks arrests: ‘This is a societal issue’

Kait Moore

Mayor Jim Kenney has released new details about the city’s investigations into the arrests of two black men in a Rittenhouse Starbucks that led to outraged accusations of racism nationwide.

“This is not just a Starbucks issue. This is a societal issue,” Kenney said in a statement. “People can react differently to others based on skin color, and that is wrong. We have work to do, and we need to do so productively.”

Kenney said that Starbucks’ executive leadership has promised full cooperation with city investigations of the incident, in which a manager on April 12 allegedly called 911 to report that two black males who were sitting in the cafe without buying anything to police were trespassing. Responding officers called for backup before cuffing the men and escorting them out of the coffee shop, which was caught on a video that went viral around the world. The two men were detained for about eight hours before being released without being charged.

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson has repeatedly apologized and promised a full staff retraining on “unconscious bias.” The manager who called 911 also left the company.

“I believe Starbucks will cooperate fully with our probes of the matter, particularly the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations’ review of Starbucks’ policies,” Kenney said. “All parties agree that the outcome of this incident was extremely unfortunate and that’s why we are reviewing the incident seriously.”

Kenney also noted that this is not the first incident reported at this Starbucks location, which is in a police service area that the ACLU of Pennsylvania said “67 percent of stops in the police service area where the store is located are of African-Americans,” while that group only makes up 3 percent of the area’s population.

The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations is reviewing Starbucks’ policies, the demographics of their employees and managers, and this incident along with others that have been reported to the commission.

The Police Advisory Commission is reviewing how police officers responded to the scene and whether “national best practices” were implemented, along with an ongoing Police Department review and audit of officers’ responses to the incident for potential re-training.

The Starbucks manager and the two men who were arrested have not yet been publicly identified.

More from our Sister Sites