PHILADELPHIA -- (WGN) -- Starbucks sells itself as a community gathering spot as much as a coffeehouse, a welcoming place with comfortable chairs for lingering, trendy music and Wi-Fi. That’s one reason the arrest of two black men who were sitting in a Starbucks struck a nerve for so many: They were doing exactly what people do at most any of the chain’s 28,000 stores worldwide.
The CEO of Starbucks Co., Kevin Johnson, called the arrests a “reprehensible outcome” and said he wants to personally apologize to the men, saying the company “stands firmly against discrimination or racial profiling.” But that didn’t stop protesters from gathering Sunday outside the store in downtown Philadelphia where the arrests occurred.
As people ordered coffee inside, the Rev. Jeffrey Jordan led a crowd of a couple dozen in chants of “I am somebody, and I demand equality now.”
“It is a shame that (in) the year 2018 we’re still putting up with this mess,” said Jordan. “This country was built on the backs of black and brown people and now Starbucks is going to treat us like we’re second-class.”
In Washington, D.C., Gregory Wilkins usually visits one of three neighborhood Starbucks for about 45 minutes before work to read the paper with his coffee or smoke a cigarette at the outside tables. Wilkins, who is black, said he’d consider going elsewhere if something like the incident in Philadelphia occurred again.