Starbucks to shut stores in US for ‘racial-bias training’
NEW DELHI – Agence France-Presse
Starbucks will close stores and corporate offices across the United States on May 29 to conduct “racial-bias education,” the company announced on April 17, following outrage over the arrest of two black men in one of its cafes.
It was the latest bid by the behemoth coffee chain to recover from last Thursday’s incident in Philadelphia, which was captured on video and went viral, viewed millions of times. The video posted on Twitter by a Starbucks client shows uniformed police questioning and then handcuffing the two men, who offer no resistance, as a white client repeatedly asks an officer, “What’d they do? What’d they do?”
Starbucks said more than 8,000 stores would be closed on the afternoon of May 29 and training provided to nearly 175,000 employees, and incorporated going forward.
CEO Kevin Johnson, who has also apologized, said the company was “committed to being a part of the solution” and that he had been in Philadelphia “listening to the community, learning what we did wrong and the steps we need to take to fix it.”
“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,” he said. The curriculum will be designed “to address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination and ensure everyone inside a Starbucks store feels safe and welcome,” the company said in a statement.
Philadelphia police said they received a 911 call from a Starbucks worker who said the men were trespassing, after refusing to buy anything. Police said officers had “politely” asked the two to leave before finally arresting them. They reportedly asked first to use the bathroom, but were told it was only for paying customers.
The two men’s lawyer Lauren Wimmer told a CBS affiliate in Philadelphia that they had been waiting for a third man to arrive for a business meeting.
Starbucks declined to prosecute and the men were released