Two men were waiting for a friend at a Starbucks in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They did not order anything, but they did need to use the restroom. They were then arrested.
The amount of force displayed by police, according to customers at the coffee shop, was shocking. Customers defended the pair of men, saying that they did not do anything.
The scene was captured on video by a customer. The incident occurred at the Starbucks at 18th and Spruce in Philadelphia.
The video shows police officers circle around the men. They were seated on a couch in the back of the establishment.
The law enforcement officers can be seen putting the two men in handcuffs. The men do not say anything as they are escorted out of the establishment.
The video has already been viewed millions of times.
Customers at the Starbucks—who watched the arrests take place—were understandably upset. They wanted to know why the men were being arrested, and they demanded answers.
One man called the situation ridiculous. Law enforcement was called, he said, because two black men were meeting. As far as he could tell, they did not do anything.
Another patron stated that the pair “didn’t do anything”. That patron apparently “saw the entire thing”.
Melissa DePino, the customer who taped the arrest, used Twitter to speak out regarding the incident.
Melissa said that police were called because the two men had not ordered anything. They were simply waiting for a friend to show up. That friend, she said, showed up as the men were being led out of Starbucks in handcuffs.
She added that other white people are wondering why such a thing has never happened to them, considering white people do similar things.
According to the Philadelphia Police Department, an investigation into the arrest has been launched. The department has stated that it knows of the arrest that occurred on the 12th of April at the Starbucks Café. The department says that the incident—including the actions of the officers—is being investigated internally. Once all of the facts have been gathered, the department will comment further.
It has been reported that the two men arrested were released at about two in the morning on Saturday. No charges were pursued; the office of the district attorney did not feel there was evidence of a crime. Therefore, it declined to arraign the men.
The men were apparently real estate brokers, and they were at the Starbucks to meet with a family friend.
Melissa DePino has said that there is probably more to the story. The assumption is a big part of the problem, she said. It does happen, and it happens all of the time.
Melissa also posted a picture of people protesting the coffee shop. The sign being held insinuated that being black in that particular coffee shop meant getting arrested.
Starbucks did apologize for what transpired; in a statement, the company said that it knows of the recent incident in the Philadelphia store. The company also said that it was disappointed it all led to an arrest. The company claims that it is reviewing the matter with law enforcement, its partners, and customers in order to determine what actually took place.
Starbucks also issued a second statement, in which it apologized to the two men who were arrested and to the store’s customers. In the statement, Starbucks acknowledged that it has “more work to do” in regard to how it handles incidents in its shops. The company claims to be reviewing its policies so that a similar incident never happens again.
Commissioner Richard Ross ended up releasing a statement regarding the arrests using Facebook Live.
According to him, police received a 911 call due to an alleged disturbance and trespassing. Starbucks employees purportedly claimed that the two men refused to leave the establishment. According to company policy, people who don’t pay for Starbucks’ products are not allowed to use the restroom, so employees asked the two men to leave.
Richard Ross claims that the two men refused, so police were called.
The Commissioner claimed that the officers first called the Starbucks’ supervisor—so that the situation would not get out of hand. The officers asked the men to leave several times, but they would not. According to Ross, the men who would eventually be arrested made fun of how much police officers make per year.
Ross also stated that the men were not harmed while being arrested. After they were arrested, the police learned that Starbucks was not interested in prosecuting the men.