Men Arrested In Starbucks Viral Video Settle For $1 Each — And A Giant Donation

The two men took a unique approach with the city of Philadelphia.

The two Black men who were arrested in a Philadelphia Starbucks have settled with the city for one dollar each. But it comes with a catch. Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, whose arrest went viral after they were filmed being handcuffed inside a Starbucks for doing nothing more than waiting at a table, asked the city to fund a $200,000 grant to a nonprofit for a pilot program for city public high school students with aspirations of becoming entrepreneurs. Nelson and Robinson won't receive any of the money, which the city has agreed to donate.


"I am pleased to have resolved the potential claims against the City in this productive manner," Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement provided to A Plus. "This was an incident that evoked a lot of pain in our City, pain that would've resurfaced over and over again in protracted litigation, which presents significant legal risks and high financial and emotional costs for everyone involved."

Nelson and Robinson, both real estate agents, were arrested after they sat down inside a Starbucks without eating food. The restaurant manager called the police and accused the men of trespassing because they hadn't ordered anything. A bystander filmed several policemen surrounding and handcuffing the two men as onlookers asked why they were being arrested. Nelson and Robinson were both held in jail for a few hours before being released.

Initially, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross defended his officers' conduct. But he later apologized on television.

"Rather than spending time, money, and resources to engage in a potentially adversarial process, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson approached the City and invited us to partner with them in an attempt to make something positive come of this," Mayor Kenney said in his statement. "This agreement is the result of those conversations, and I look forward to seeing the fruits of this effort in the coming months and years."

In the wake of the incident, Starbucks also announced it'd be closing down more than 8,000 stores on May 29 in order to conduct racial bias training for employees. 

Starbucks also released a statement on its website, saying it had reached a separate agreement that "will include a financial settlement as well as continued listening and dialogue between the parties and specific action and opportunity." It's unclear how large the financial settlement is or if Nelson and Robinson will ask Starbucks to provide a similar philanthropic settlement.

"We thought long and hard about it and we feel like this is the best way to see that change that we want to see," Donte Robinson told the Associated Press. "It's not a right-now thing that's good for right now, but I feel like we will see the true change over time."

Cover image via Shutterstock / Nils Versemann

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