starbucks made an announcement yesterday that all 8,000 company-owned stores will be closed on May 29th in the afternoon. Starbucks will spend that afternoon educating their employees about Racial Bias. The racial bias training will be mandated to 175,000 of Starbucks’ workers. This was announced just a week after two black men were arrested while waiting for a friend at a Philadelphia Starbucks.

The incidents

When the two men came into the Starbucks, they asked an employee to use the bathroom but they were denied access because the bathrooms were only available to customers who have purchased something.

They sat in the store without ordering anything and it prompted the store manager to call the police. The two men were arrested for trespassing but there were no charges filed.

The manager who called the police is no longer working at the Starbucks store in Philadelphia. There were reports that the former manager had left the company with a mutual agreement but Starbucks would not comment on those reports.

Another incident happened in a California Starbucks which is a similar incident to what happened in the Philadelphia Starbucks. In January, there was a video taken on Facebook that showed a black customer saying that he was denied access to use the bathroom when a white customer was able to use the bathroom with no problem.

The aftermath

The video that was taken while the police were arresting the two black men was viewed more than 10 million times online. In addition to that, people in the community were making accusations of racism in the town. There were protests in and out of the Starbucks, and corporate went on “Good Morning America” to apologize publicly for the incident.

The incident happened in Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. The neighborhood is known to have the highest racial disparity when it comes to police stopping people. Even though black people are only 3 percent of the residents in the subdistrict, two-thirds of black people were stopped by police in the first half of 2017, according to figures collected by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Several people who live in the neighborhood were at one point stopped by police while they were shopping at the square. Christian Hayden states that he remembered shopping there and having a security guard search his bags as he was leaving Barnes and Noble. Trevor Johnson remembers being arrested four years ago in the square for having his music on. Earlier this year, Michele Bradshaw left a Nordstrom that is located in the square after she noticed a security guard following her through the clothing aisles.

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson made a statement after the incident occurred in Philadelphia. He stated: “I’ve spent the last few days in Philadelphia with my leadership team listening to the community, learning what we did wrong and the steps we need to take to fix it.” Johnson continued his statement by saying that Starbucks is fully committed to being a part of the solution and closing the stores for the racial bias training is just one step in that direction.

The training is going to be guided by experts including former Attorney General Eric Holder. In addition, Sherrilyn Ifill, who is the president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Jonathan Greenblatt, who is the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League will help with the development of the training.

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