Black men arrested at Philadelphia Starbucks reach agreements

Two African-American men...

Posted: May 3, 2018 6:59 AM
Updated: May 3, 2018 6:59 AM

Two African-American men whose arrest at a Philadelphia Starbucks sparked protests over racial bias have reached agreements with the coffee store chain and the city, and have pledged to support a $200,000 effort to encourage young entrepreneurs.

The details of the financial agreement that Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson reached this week with Starbucks are confidential, the company said. The parties agreed to work to "develop specific actions and opportunities."

The two men will give input to former US Attorney Eric Holder, who is working with Starbucks on its diversity efforts.

Robinson and Nelson also reached an agreement with the city for $1 each, said city spokesman Mike Dunn.

The men will work with the city and a nonprofit organization to develop criteria, review applications and award the $200,000 grant, Dunn said. The grant will establish "a pilot curriculum for public high school students to develop the skills necessary to pursue their dream of being entrepreneurs," according to Dunn.

The men had initially asked to use the bathroom at the Starbucks on April 12 as they waited for a business meeting, but were told it was for paying customers only. They then occupied a table without making a purchase, which many observers have noted is a common occurrence at the franchise's locations.

Within minutes of them arriving, a manager called police after the men declined to leave the premises because, they said, they were waiting for their acquaintance. The video of the arrests went viral.

The men were not charged with a crime.

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson apologized for the arrests, calling them "reprehensible."

Starbucks, as part of the agreement, is giving the men the opportunity to complete their undergraduate degrees, through a partnership with Arizona State University.

The protests reignited a national conversation over racial profiling. The mammoth coffee chain agreed to close its 8,000 company-owned stores in the United States to educate employees about racial bias on May 29.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross apologized to the men, saying he made the decision worse by initially defending his officers' actions.

In a statement Wednesday, Johnson said thank the men for "their willingness to reconcile."

"I welcome the opportunity to begin a relationship with them to share learnings and experiences. And Starbucks will continue to take actions that stem from this incident to repair and reaffirm our values and vision for the kind of company we want to be," Johnson said.

Mayor Jim Kenney said he was pleased to resolve the potential claims against the city.

"This was an incident that evoked a lot of pain in our City, pain that would've resurfaced over and over again in protracted litigation, which presents significant legal risks and high financial and emotional costs for everyone involved," Kenney said in a statement.

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