The Arrest Of 2 Black Men At Starbucks Prompts The Hashtag #WaitingWhileBlack

The video has already received 8 million views.

A now-viral video of two Black men being arrested in a Starbucks has sparked much criticism online and opened an important conversation about the racism that permeates American culture. The two men were waiting for a friend in a Philadelphia location of the chain Thursday when the police were called. While the incident has prompted internal investigations by both the police department and Starbucks, many are calling the interaction another example of the bias people of color face every day. 

According to officials, the two men had been sitting in a booth at coffee shop when they asked if they could use the restroom. An employee refused because they had not bought anything and asked the two men to leave. When they continued to wait for their friend, an employee called the police. According to The New York Times, moments later, officers handcuffed the men and escorted them out of the Starbucks while their friend, who is white, asked what offense they had committed.

"Trespassing," an officer is heard saying in the video. 

The video of the incident, which was recorded by another patron and posted to Twitter, has received over 8 million views. 

"The police were called because these men hadn't ordered anything," Melissa DePino, who originally posted the video wrote on Twitter. "They were waiting for a friend to show up, who did as they were taken out in handcuffs for doing nothing. All the other White ppl are wondering why it's never happened to us when we do the same thing."

Many responded to the incident using #WaitingWhileBlack - a hashtag reminiscent of "driving while Black," the phrase commonly used to refer to the racial profiling of African American drivers. 

The men were later released from police custody and both Starbucks and the Philadelphia prosecutor's office declined to press any charges. Starbucks apologized on Twitter Saturday, and the company's CEO Kevin Johnson issued his own statement in which he apologized to the men and pledged "a thorough investigation of our practices" the findings of which will be shared at a company-wide meeting. 

"The video shot by customers is very hard to watch," Johnson wrote. "Regretfully, our practices and training led to a bad outcome—the basis for the call to the Philadelphia police department was wrong.  Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did...You can and should expect more from us.  We will learn from this and be better." 

Cover image via Shutterstock / M-Thanaphum

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