Fri, May 04, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Black men arrested in Starbucks store reach settlements

SOUL-SEARCHING:The coffee chain has sought to repair the damage to its image by apologizing and ordering stores to do ‘racial-bias education’

AFP, NEW YORK

Two black men arrested in Starbucks have reached settlements with the US coffee chain and the city of Philadelphia, which is to endow a US$200,000 fund to help young entrepreneurs, officials said on Wednesday.

Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were arrested in Philadelphia on April 12, sparking international outrage, protests at Starbucks outlets and anguished soul-searching about the lingering problems of racial discrimination in the US.

The mayor’s office said Nelson and Robinson had agreed not to sue the city in exchange for US$1 each and the city’s agreement to grant US$200,000 to a pilot program for high-school students who want to become entrepreneurs.

“I am pleased to have resolved the potential claims against the city in this productive manner,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said. “I look forward to seeing the fruits of this effort in the coming months and years.”

Starbucks also reached an agreement with Robinson and Nelson this week, the company announced on Wednesday.

That deal “will include a financial settlement, as well as continued listening and dialogue ... and specific action and opportunity,” it said.

Starbucks has sought to repair the damage to its image by apologizing, and ordering all its stores and corporate offices across the US to close for an afternoon on May 29 to conduct “racial-bias education.”

Philadelphia Police Chief Richard Ross, who is himself African-American, also publicly apologized, admitting he “failed miserably” with his initial response.

Ross was widely criticized after he initially said his “officers did absolutely nothing wrong” during the arrests which followed a 911 call from a Starbucks worker who said the men were trespassing after refusing to buy anything.

Police said officers “politely” asked Nelson and Robinson to leave before arresting them.

They reportedly first asked to use the bathroom, but were told it was only for paying customers.

A video, which went viral after being posted on social media by a customer, showed uniformed police officers questioning and then handcuffing the pair, despite their offering no resistance.

The two men’s lawyer, Lauren Wimmer, told a CBS affiliate in Philadelphia that they had been waiting for a third man to arrive for a business meeting.

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