Black men arrested at Starbucks settle for $200K entrepreneurial program
PHILADELPHIA — Two black men arrested for sitting at a Philadelphia Starbucks without ordering anything settled with the city for a symbolic $1 each Wednesday and a promise from officials to set up a $200,000 program for young entrepreneurs. The men’s lawyer and Mayor Jim Kenney outlined the agreement to The Associated Press.
The arrest of Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson on April 12 touched off a furor around the U.S. over racial profiling. Rashon Nelson initially brushed it off when the Starbucks manager told him he couldn’t use the restroom because he wasn’t a paying customer. He thought nothing of it when he and his business partner, Donte Robinson, were approached at their table and were asked if they needed help. The 23-year-old entrepreneurs declined, explaining they were just waiting for a business meeting.
A few minutes later, they hardly noticed when the police walked into the coffee shop — until officers started walking in their direction.
“That’s when we knew she called the police on us,” Nelson told The Associated Press after video of their April 12 arrests went viral.
They were led away in handcuffs after the manager called police, saying the men refused to buy anything or leave. After spending hours in jail, they were released and no charges were filed.
The men said they were waiting for a business meeting about a potential real estate deal.
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson came to Philadelphia to personally apologize. He also announced Starbucks stores would close May 29 for training on bias — something Johnson said was only a “small piece” of the actions Starbucks planned in response to the episode.
“I am personally committed to act on several front to ensure it never happens again,” he said.
Last week, he said the chain hasn’t seen a drop in sales despite calls to boycott the company.
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