The Starbucks Arrests and the Toll of Routine Bias

Over the weekend, a viral video showing the unwarranted arrests of two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks led to protests and calls for a nationwide boycott of Starbucks.

…In her tweets highlighting the episode, Melissa DePino, who is white, said that the police had been called since the men hadn’t ordered anything, but they hadn’t ordered anything because they were still waiting to meet a friend. That friend, a white real-estate developer named Andrew Yaffe, arrived after the police and can be seen confronting the officers in both videos, asking them why they were called, and wondering aloud if it was “’cause there are two black guys sitting here meeting me?” Other people in the Starbucks can also be heard saying that the men did nothing wrong.

In the longer video, before the men are handcuffed, Yaffe tells the police that he and his friends will just leave and go somewhere else, but one of the officers dismisses the idea.

“They’re not free to leave,” the officer replies. “We’re done with that.”

The officers then handcuff the men, who do not resist, and take them outside.

…The Philadelphia police later said that the men were arrested for “defiant trespassing,” but were released about nine hours later, at 2 a.m. Friday, after the Starbucks employees and the district attorney’s office declined to press charges.

…One patron who spoke with WPTI-TV confirmed that the incident began after the men were refused access to the restroom, but she claimed that the Starbucks manager did not ask the men to buy something or leave, and just called the police instead. She also said that she had seen a white woman obtain the code for the bathroom without buying something right before the men were arrested, and that during the incident, another person in the Starbucks announced that she had been sitting in the location for hours without purchasing anything.

…No witnesses have described anything the men did that could qualify as causing a “disturbance.”

…[Melissa DePino]is trying to raise white awareness about white cluelessness when it comes to understanding racial discrimination and bias.

“Ever since I posted [the video],” she tweeted on Friday, “I’ve had white strangers AND friends say ‘there must be something more to this story.’ That assumption is a big part of the problem.”

…As Owens and many others have tried to explain this weekend, some variation of what happened in that one Starbucks happens every day all over the country to a lot more people than most of us realize. Addressing it will demand attention and empathy, from outside communities of color, at times when there is no spectacle or novelty to focus on, or corporation’s app to delete, or white woman’s cell-phone video to share.

The Starbucks Arrests and the Toll of Routine Bias

First off, so much for the bs story from Philly’s top Uncle Tom, err, I mean top cop’s story that the officers didn’t want to arrest the two gentlemen involved.

And secondly?



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s