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  World   Americas  19 Apr 2018  Starbucks to close 8,000 US stores for bias training

Starbucks to close 8,000 US stores for bias training

AP
Published : Apr 19, 2018, 2:36 am IST
Updated : Apr 19, 2018, 2:36 am IST

The announcement on Tuesday comes after the arrests sparked protests and calls for a boycott on social media.

Protesters gather outside of a Starbucks cafe in Philadelphia on Sunday, April 15, 2018, where two black men were arrested last Thursday after employees called police to say the men were trespassing. (Photo: AP)
 Protesters gather outside of a Starbucks cafe in Philadelphia on Sunday, April 15, 2018, where two black men were arrested last Thursday after employees called police to say the men were trespassing. (Photo: AP)

New York: Starbucks, moving swiftly to confront a racially charged uproar over the arrest of two black men at one of its stores in Philadelphia, plans to close more than 8,000 US stores for several hours next month to conduct racial-bias training for nearly 175,000 workers.

The announcement on Tuesday comes after the arrests sparked protests and calls for a boycott on social media. A video shows police talking with two black men seated at a table. After a few minutes, officers handcuff the men and lead them outside as other customers say they weren’t doing anything wrong. Philadelphia-area media said the two were waiting for a friend.

Philadelphia police released a recording of the call from the Starbucks employee that led to the arrests. In the recording, a woman is heard saying, “Hi, I have two gentlemen in my cafe that are refusing to make a purchase or leave.” She gives the address of the Starbucks store, and the entire call lasts less than 30 seconds. In the communications between police and dispatch that were also released, someone refers to “a group of males inside causing a disturbance,” and additional officers are sent.

Starbucks, which was once ridiculed for urging its employees to write “Race Together” on coffee cups to start a national conversation on race relations, has found itself through the looking glass: under fire for its treatment of black people.

The company reacted from a high level: Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson called the arrests “reprehensible” and said that he wanted to apologise to the two men face-to-face. The company and a lawyer for the two men said that they did meet, and Mr Johnson delivered the apology. Starbucks also said the employee who called police no longer works at the store, but declined to give details.

Tags: starbucks, kevin johnson