Philadelphia, US | April 16
Starbucks wants to add training for store managers on “unconscious bias,” CEO Kevin Johnson said Monday, as activists held more protests at a Philadelphia store where two black men were arrested when employees said they were trespassing.
Johnson, who has called the arrests “reprehensible,” arrived in Philadelphia this weekend after video of the arrests gained traction online. He said he hopes to meet with the two men in the next couple of days and apologize to them face-to-face.
“I’d like to have a dialogue with them and the opportunity to listen to them with compassion and empathy through the experience they went through,” said Johnson, who has been CEO about a year. Stewart Cohen, the lawyer for the two men, said he hopes “something productive for the community” can come out of their meeting with the company.
The incident is a major blow to Starbucks’ image, since the company has promoted its coffee shops as neighborhood hangouts where anyone is welcome. After a video of the arrests spread online, the hashtag #BoycottStarbucks trended on Twitter.
And on Monday, about two dozen protesters took over the Philadelphia shop, chanting slogans like, “A whole lot of racism, a whole lot of crap, Starbucks coffee is anti-black.” A Starbucks regional vice president who attempted to talk to the protesters was shouted down.
“We don’t want this Starbucks to make any money today. That’s our goal,” said Abdul-Aliy Muhammad, one of the protest’s organizers and co-founder of the Black and Brown Workers Collective.