Starbucks Apologizes As #DumpStarbucks Goes Viral

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Last July 4, a Starbucks barista requested a group of police officers to leave from their establishment in Arizona. The barista told the officers that a customer “did not feel safe” due to their presence in the store. 

The officers obliged and left the store; albeit, disappointed.  

According to the Tempe Officers Association’s statement, though the barista who approached the officers were polite, the request was still offensive. 

“This treatment of public safety workers could not be more disheartening,” the statement reads. “We know this is not a national policy at Starbucks Corporate and we look forward to working collaboratively with them on this important dialogue.”

Tempe police officers received support with #DumpStarbucks trending on Twitter since July 5. An image was tweeted by the Tempe Officers Association imitating the logo of the famous coffee shop with big “DUMP” sign above. It also shows a hand purposefully spilling coffee over the name of the store. 

Starbucks executive vice president and president of US retail, Rossann Williams released a statement last Saturday after meeting with the police chief, Sylvia Moir. 

Williams’ statement reads: “On behalf of Starbucks, I want to sincerely apologize to you all for the experience that six of your officers had in our store on July 4. When those officers entered the store and a customer raised concern over their presence, they should have been welcomed and treated with dignity and the utmost respect by our partners (employees). Instead, they were made to feel unwelcome and disrespected, which is completely unacceptable.”

Williams further reiterates that the company has a deep appreciation for Tempe’s police officers who serve the community. She also shares that Starbucks’ deep relationship with the Tempe police department has provided them opportunities to host Coffee with a Cop event in their area stores. 

The event aims to bring residents and police officers together to discuss issues within the community. One of the Coffee with a Cop event was held in a Starbucks in E. Warner Road last October 2018.

The statement ends with an invitation to police chief Moir and Tempe police officers to meet with Williams. 

Similar Incident

The coffee shop giants’ apology comes a year after Starbucks issued an apology for an incident in their store in Philadelphia. 

Last year, two African American customers were arrested inside a Starbucks store when its baristas called 911. The customers went to the coffee shop to wait for a business associate. Both did not order any drink, which prompted the staff to be concerned. 

Starbucks policies dictate that only paying customers can use their bathroom. Police officers responded to the call and escorted the two men out of the store. The charges brought upon them was a trespassing charge. 

A video of the arrest circulated in social media prompted outrage from various citizens. In the video, other customers in the store protested the arrest. The two men were silent and followed orders given by the police officers.

According to Melissa DePino, the woman who posted the video of the arrest, the two African Americans were not doing anything. A second video of the incident was posted on YouTube posted by user Pink Gal. The video, which is eight minutes long, shows a third person approaching the police officers, protesting against the arrest. 

The third person was identified as real estate developer Andrew Yaffe, who was the business associate the two men were waiting. 

After making rounds in social media, the Philadelphia Police Department issued a statement clarifying that the actions of its police officers were by the book. 

An internal investigation was conducted by the Philadelphia Police Department. Commissioner Richard Ross stated that the police asked the men to leave the establishment three times before carrying on with the arrest. 

“As an African American male, I am very aware of implicit bias; we are committed to fair and unbiased policing,” Ross said in a report from APNews. “If a business calls and they say that ‘Someone is here that I no longer wish to be in my business’ (officers) now have a legal obligation to carry out their duties and they did just that,” he adds.

Two days after the incident, Starbucks tweeted an apology. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson also released an official statement in the company’s website. 

Johnson expressed three things: an apology to the two men who was arrested, an info-sharing about their internal investigation, and a reassurance that the company is against discrimination or racial profiling. Following the incident, Starbucks staff in several areas in the US underwent bias and diversity training. 

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