The Starbucks manager who called police on two black men inside a Center City store, sparking a wave of controversy, protests and calls for a national boycott, has left the company, executive chairman Howard Schultz said during an interview with CBS News.
Schultz traveled to Philadelphia Wednesday and along with Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, met with members of POWER, an interfaith group who took part in protests earlier this week outside the Starbucks on 18th and Spruce streets where the incident occurred.
Schultz also spoke with Gayle King of CBS News inside the 18th and Spruce Starbucks, saying he was “embarrassed” and “ashamed” by the incident.
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“There’s no doubt in my mind that the reason that [the police] were called was because they were African American,” Schultz told King. “That’s not who Starbucks is.”
The men were arrested by as many as seven Philadelphia police officers Thursday afternoon while waiting for another person to arrive at the Starbucks at 1801 Spruce Street. The store manager called police on them after they asked to use the bathroom, were denied because they hadn't bought anything, then sat at a table.
That other person they were waiting for, Andrew Yaffe, who works in real estate in Philadelphia, arrived as the two men were being hauled off in handcuffs. They were released hours later without being charged. Starbucks declined to press trespassing charges.
Video of police officers leading the two men away in handcuffs went viral and sparked national outrage as well as protests and calls to boycott the chain of 28,000 Starbucks stores across the country.
During his interview, Schultz said the manager has received death threats and there’s a concern for her safety. He also said he’s arranging a meeting between the manager and the two men, claiming they would like to meet each other.
Schultz said he doesn’t believe Thursday’s incident was an isolated one and Starbucks is reviewing all of their policies in its aftermath.
Starbucks plans to close all of its more than 8,000 US stores on May 29 for racial bias training.