Racial tensions in the USA have once again been brought to the fore following the arrest of two black men for waiting for a friend in a Starbucks in Philadelphia. Police were called and the men escorted out in handcuffs supposedly because Starbucks “does not allow non-paying people from the public to come in and use the restroom,” according to Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross.
The two men were reportedly real estate agents waiting for a white colleague to arrive. When one of the men attempted to use the bathroom he was stopped by the manager on the basis that he had not yet purchased anything. The men responded by saying they were waiting for a friend, but the manager called the police for assistance. The police arrived at the same time as the friend that the men were waiting for, but they were still taken to the police station, fingerprinted, and held for eight hours. They were later released after the district attorney found no evidence of a crime.
Lauren Wimmer, the lawyer for the two men, has said that the arrest was “completely based on race” and said there was “no indication any crime was being committed.” Starbucks has apologised for the incident.
“We clearly have more work to do when it comes to how we handle incidents in our stores,” CEO Kevin Johnson wrote in a statement. “We are reviewing our policies and will continue to engage with the community and the police department to try to ensure these types of situations never happen in any of our stores.”