#BoycottStarbucks
April 16, 2018 9:58 AM   Subscribe

Starbucks Apologizes After Two Black Men Were Arrested For Not Ordering Anything [The New York Times] “Last Thursday, the two men asked to use the restroom in the coffee shop but an employee refused the request because they had not bought anything, officials said. They sat down, and they were eventually asked to leave. When they declined, an employee called the police. Some of what happened next was recorded in a video that has been viewed nearly 10 million times on Twitter and was described by Mr. Johnson as “very hard to watch.” Police officers surrounded the men and escorted one of them out of the Starbucks in handcuffs. The other soon followed.”

• Starbucks CEO apologizes for arrests of 2 black men at Philadelphia store; manager has left company [Philly Inquirer]
“In an interview with 6ABC, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross said he wished the incident had not happened. “I can tell you that that police officer did not want to have to make an arrest in that incident,” said Ross. He said officers are often called to businesses when someone who is asked to leave but does not. “Many instances people usually leave before we get there. In some instances, they leave when we arrive, just our mere presence. Most people will move just simply because we tell them the proprietor wants you to leave. In this case that was not the issue. That’s for [the arrested men] to decide why they didn’t do that.” He said the men had been given three separate warnings over 15 minutes before they were arrested, showing “that there wasn’t a rush to judgment.” “There are laws on the books that we have to follow. If we had our druthers we wouldn’t have came there in the first place,” said Ross.”
• Starbucks Witness: Implicit Bias Exists and White People Need to Speak Up When They See It [The Root]
“DePino was firm in her belief that the story is not about her; it’s about what happened to two innocent black men who were racially profiled. “They were just sitting there waiting for their friend,” DePino said. She said a Starbucks employee told the gentlemen that if they didn’t purchase anything, they would have to leave, but DePino said there were people in the store who said they hadn’t purchased anything for hours and they had had no issue. Still, the employee called the police, because apparently the threat of two black men sitting in the store without purchasing coffee proved too much for her. The employee, of course, was white. This is just another real-life example of implicit bias.”
• Why nearly everybody involved in the Starbucks controversy is in the wrong [Philly Voice]
“When it comes to the controversy over two black men being led out of a Center City Philadelphia Starbucks in handcuffs for the offense of being there in the first place sans lattes, there’s one unavoidable takeaway. Nearly everybody involved – both at the store on Thursday night and in central-casting reactions from all corners of the outrage spectrum – was in the wrong. First and foremost, it applies to the manager who called the police on men who were waiting to meet a friend. It also goes for the company which instituted a policy that enabled her to do so, even though everybody knows that humans – generally, white – often loiter inside the coffee empire’s locations with an eight-hour coffee to tap into the free WiFi.”
• Two black men were arrested at Starbucks. CEO now calling for ‘unconscious bias’ training. [Washington Post]
“The chief executive of Starbucks on Monday called for “unconscious bias” training for store managers and unequivocally apologized for what he called “reprehensible” circumstances that led to the arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia store. Starbucks’s chief executive Kevin Johnson said on “Good Morning America” that the company was reviewing the actions of the store manager who called the police. Johnson said that “what happened to those two gentlemen was wrong.” “My responsibility is to look not only to that individual but look more broadly at the circumstances that set that up just to ensure that never happens again,” Johnson told GMA anchor Robin Roberts.”
posted by Fizz (208 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
 
Nowhere in this story does it say that those 2 black men will receive free starbucks coffee for the rest of their lives, or that the racist manager was fired. that's kinda what i wanted to read.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:05 AM on April 16 [49 favorites]


"Starbucks CEO apologizes for arrests of 2 black men at Philadelphia store; manager has left company" I think it's safe to assume the manager was fired or resigned knowing if he didn't, he would be fired.
posted by youthenrage at 10:10 AM on April 16 [33 favorites]


A lot of time people come into my girlfriend’s coffee shop because they’re meeting someone and just want to get out of the weather, then the person shows up and they end up buying stuff at the shop.
posted by gucci mane at 10:17 AM on April 16 [14 favorites]


Beyond the obvious racist profiling, what's also disturbing is the national discussion about this is barely above "at least the cops didn't shoot them". White people would be lauded for how irate they got with the police, not how calm they were when faced with the definite possibility of at least being drawn upon if not shot.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:23 AM on April 16 [39 favorites]


Hey fellow white people, the actions of some of those white bystanders (like DePino) is real solidarity. Step in, speak up, and film when you see people of color being hassled by police. It's literally the least we can do.
posted by entropone at 10:25 AM on April 16 [100 favorites]


Whenever I read a story like this, I think about how hard it is to stand up to systems of power, or to make noise in a confrontation that you're not already part of. And then I think about how I, as a white person, want to behave if/when I'm witness to something like this.

So I've started practicing scripts with friends based on this sort of news so I'll have the habit of standing up when I see something wrong. It's not enough to be angry when this stuff happens; we have to practice doing better so we can make a difference when the opportunity presents itself.
posted by spindrifter at 10:25 AM on April 16 [22 favorites]


[hangs up 'whites only' sign]

this is just another instance of implicit bias
posted by beerperson at 10:26 AM on April 16 [7 favorites]


Predictably, there are a bunch of people on Twitter working harder than they've probably ever worked in their lives trying to "prove" (largely by posting random stuff they found on places like Reddit) that none of this was motivated by racism. One guy in particular has now been tweeting about it for three full days, taking on all comers and insisting that if the guys had just been polite when the police showed up, none of this would have happened. It's amazing the lengths that people will go to show that systemic racism doesn't exist; would that they put their energies half as strenuously into eradicating it.
posted by holborne at 10:29 AM on April 16 [33 favorites]


Last year I lived fairly close to this Starbucks location and used to walk past it regularly. (I don't think I ever went in; there were better, local coffee options available nearby.) This is one of those locations where people frequently set up camp with laptops to work or study for hours, and I don't think anyone would think anything of it.

It's also right next to (or just inside of, as best I can tell neighborhood borders change depending on who's talking) the very tony Rittenhouse Square neighborhood, one of the wealthiest in the city. The (mostly white) residents of this neighborhood can probably expect to walk into a Starbucks, grab a table, and wait as long as they need for someone they're meeting to show up, without ordering anything, and have no one even notice, beyond perhaps some quiet tutting by the manager if they happen to be busy.
posted by biogeo at 10:30 AM on April 16 [14 favorites]


The guy in the Twitter video asking 'What is going on' is a local real estate developer named Andrew Yaffe. He's the guy who the other guys were there to meet. He showed up as they were being arrested. They were still arrested ...
posted by carter at 10:30 AM on April 16 [26 favorites]


CNN reporting the manager no longer works at that location "but would not comment if she is working at another location."

Garbage. Make her stay there and deal with the consequences of her actions or fire her.
posted by danapiper at 10:30 AM on April 16 [15 favorites]


At least one customer is reporting POC temporarily being assigned to this location.
posted by tilde at 10:31 AM on April 16 [5 favorites]


“So many of my white friends were saying to me, ‘There has to be more to the story than that,’” DePino said. “It’s so frustrating.”

I saw her initial Twitter post with the video, and this kind of comment was all over it; she was calling it out.

Predictably, there are a bunch of people on Twitter working harder than they've probably ever worked in their lives trying to "prove" (largely by posting random stuff they found on places like Reddit) that none of this was motivated by racism. One guy in particular has now been tweeting about it for three full days, taking on all comers and insisting that if the guys had just been polite when the police showed up, none of this would have happened.

jesuswept
posted by thelonius at 10:33 AM on April 16 [8 favorites]


The upside of social media is that this kind of stuff is harder to hide as well. In the past few years, I've seen more consistent instances of racism, blatant or systemic, than I had living as a PoC in the USA. Impunity may exist but so do cams and streaming and social sharing in real time.

Its getting harder to pretend and harder to hide.
posted by infini at 10:42 AM on April 16 [14 favorites]


I was in a Starbucks in DC over the weekend that, contrary to past visits, now had A) holes in the walls; B) a totally overwhelmed, outgunned elderly man handling the food orders; C) both cashiers visibly hung over and working *very* slowly. A newer location just blocks away seems to be working fine.

I think a lot depends on store-level management, and to blow this up into some systemic problem with the chain as a whole seems hasty (and maybe opportunistic).

Please note that I am not discounting the existence of systemic racism or that this particular instance is evidence of it.
posted by ryanshepard at 10:46 AM on April 16 [6 favorites]


Yaffe shows up at about 4:30 in this video.

Yaffe: They're allowed to be in here.
Cop: No, they're not.

And look at those cops, feet apart, hands on hips, crowding around and staring down at these two guys WHO ARE JUST GOING ABOUT THEIR DAILY LIVES.
posted by carter at 10:51 AM on April 16 [15 favorites]


Please note that I am not discounting the existence of systemic racism or that this particular instance is evidence of it.

Yeah, I don't think anyone is really calling Starbucks a racist organization, more that this shit is everywhere right under sheltered white people's noses, including your friendly neighborhood chain coffee store.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:52 AM on April 16 [44 favorites]


tilde: "At least one customer is reporting POC temporarily being assigned to this location."

"Look, Starbucks isn't racist. Some of our best employees are black!"
posted by caution live frogs at 10:56 AM on April 16 [31 favorites]


Nowhere in this story does it say that those 2 black men will receive free starbucks coffee for the rest of their lives,

I think they’ve been punished enough.
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:00 AM on April 16 [109 favorites]


This used to be my local Starbucks. The service was always super slow. While it is not shocking that A Racist Thing Happened, it is surprising that this particular incident happened at a Starbucks, which up until this point I believed to be a place where people were free to just hang around forever.

Philadelphia is also 44.2% Black, and while there is a lot of residential segregation, the makeup of retail and restaurant staff - as well as clientele - is diverse. It is not unusual in any way, shape or form for two Black people to sit in a Starbucks. Whoever the now ex-manager is doesn't deserve to work in customer service ever again.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:03 AM on April 16 [9 favorites]


There are people protesting Starbucks as an organization.
posted by PhineasGage at 11:04 AM on April 16




I think it's incidents like this that make us all fine tune our behavior and make sure we aren't holding any unconscious racists behaviors. I don't doubt that had the situation been a yuppie couple they would have been treated much differently.

My other thought was "what if these gentlemen looked homeless?" I don't think anyone would be batting an eye at the employees behavior but, IMO, it shouldn't make a difference.
posted by ShakeyJake at 11:06 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]



There are people protesting Starbucks as an organization.
posted by PhineasGage at 2:04 PM on April 16 [+] [!]


Here's a paywall-bypassed version of that article.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:08 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Unless I've been given a gift card and am in an airport, Starbucks is just a convenient place I go to poop when I'm out and about. Starbucks is essentially a public toilet that also sells coffee. Of course this is racism.
posted by phunniemee at 11:12 AM on April 16 [32 favorites]


> I think a lot depends on store-level management, and to blow this up into some systemic problem with the chain as a whole seems hasty (and maybe opportunistic).

It is potentially a problem the chain could solve by setting consistent policies. Part of the reason people go to chains like Starbucks rather than an independent shop, especially in business situations, is for a consistent experience.

For instance, the chain could require that stores clearly post and consistently enforce policies on when people can be in the store or at a table without making a purchase, or how long they can stay between purchases. Maybe during peak hours the manager should periodically announce that tables are for active customers only.
posted by smelendez at 11:14 AM on April 16 [10 favorites]


> Predictably, there are a bunch of people on Twitter working harder than they've probably ever worked in their lives trying to "prove" (largely by posting random stuff they found on places like Reddit) that none of this was motivated by racism.

I assume, of course, that these diligent internet sleuths have video footage of similar incidents involving white people who were marched out of Starbucks in handcuffs after the police were called after they were asked to leave because they hadn't purchased anything.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:15 AM on April 16 [20 favorites]


I'm really confused why the store manager didn't back down and offer free coffee to try to smooth things over. This is like social media 099 in this day and age, yeah?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:18 AM on April 16 [7 favorites]


My other thought was "what if these gentlemen looked homeless?"

DING DING DING. Looking homeless gets you treated a criminal. Years ago, when I was homeless, I got pulled out of a diner by the police, with no warning from the staff, and accused of panhandling people, which I had not. My ID was run and I was viciously excoriated (outside the diner, mercifully) by the officer and threatened with arrest. Fortunately I was allowed to walk away. If I had black or more visibly mentally ill, I'm sure I would have been arrested and charged with something.

In a capitalist society, places like diners or coffee shops are functionally public spaces. In some sense, most businesses are. The notion of "public accommodation" in civil rights law gets at this reality. But still, we lack a notion of an individual right to go to those places, and I think we need one. Like, kicking someone out of a Starbucks, even if their behavior was unruly, should be seen more as a restriction on that person's mobility than a routine exercise of Starbucks' property rights.

I'm not sure exactly how to solve this problem. The obvious answers, like "socialize all the things" or "require a fair hearing and appeal process" or "make a bunch of regs and post a bunch of notices" don't seem like they'd work.
posted by andrewpcone at 11:18 AM on April 16 [47 favorites]


Starbucks isn't the only place that makes coffee will kick out brown people for activities that white people are allowed to do. Two of the local places here in (offshoot city of San Diego) will tolerate my white-mocha-drinking white-lady butt in a seat for hours waiting for (variably or in combination- my husband, the bus, the rain to stop, it not to be so fucking hot, my motivation to walk up the hill to my apartment, my book to be done) and I've seen both those places ask people Not Me to vacate a table when they are (brown, and typically young, brown and male)

It's not Starbucks, it's -places coded white- and coffee shops are coded white. Their ads have mostly fashionable white people, they market to fashionable white people, the fancy coffee drink with 3 prefixes and a suffix is a Stereotypical White People thing.

That manager would have asked those guys to leave even if they had bought something and stayed once they had eaten/drunk it. The excuse would have been some "regulation" that barely existed or was never enforced if they stayed more than X minutes, where X is whatever time she felt like could be justified.

Fellow whites, you're not going to escape supporting racist places by just hitting up your local coffee shop instead of the local Starbs. Find places that are PoC run, or have spoken out about this and if you can't find somewhere, be willing to video tape, call the owner, speak up, and defend that next group of brown kids kicked out of the coffee shop because it's going to keep happening because it has been happening.

This time it just got recorded.
posted by FritoKAL at 11:19 AM on April 16 [76 favorites]


Even if explicit store policies existed (or may exist in the future), there is never going to be consistent adherence, because people are people; and local/individual attitudes and actions take over. It would have to be a major, major push involving lots of corporate follow-up to built the consistency that is needed to make polices like that actually work at the local level.

Manager X at location Z follows policy and always does the hourly "Tables for paying customers only!" walk-through, and reads the script and makes loiterers leave? Fine- we'll just hang out at location Y, where the managers don't give a shit.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 11:23 AM on April 16 [3 favorites]


For instance, the chain could require that stores clearly post and consistently enforce policies on when people can be in the store or at a table without making a purchase, or how long they can stay between purchases. Maybe during peak hours the manager should periodically announce that tables are for active customers only.

It is incredibly naive to think that such a rule would be enforced equitably. Racism 101 is having policies that are allegedly universal, but are only ever enforced for black customers/citizens/passengers.

Having a cup of coffee on the Metro. Jaywalking. Possessing an ounce of pot. Driving without a license. White people can break these laws with near impunity, but you'd better believe they are all used as bludgeons to intentionally harm black citizens on a constant basis.

"Make the rules clearer" is a fundamental misunderstanding of how systemic white supremacy functions in our society.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 11:25 AM on April 16 [99 favorites]


t is potentially a problem the chain could solve by setting consistent policies.

A lot of people on Twitter do not agree with this assessment.

Tell me how the hell theyre going to train the racism out of people
***
I happen to know one of the directors of Project Implicit, a multi-center group that has studied implicit bias in depth. I have seen him speak several times on the topic. He makes one thing clear:

implicit bias training does very little to address the issue.

posted by maxsparber at 11:28 AM on April 16 [13 favorites]


I'm not sure exactly how to solve this problem. The obvious answers, like "socialize all the things" ...don't seem like they'd work.

we won't know for sure unless we try!
posted by entropicamericana at 11:28 AM on April 16 [9 favorites]


> Manager X at location Z follows policy and always does the hourly "Tables for paying customers only!" walk-through, and reads the script and makes loiterers leave?

On top of everything else, it would be the front-line, lower-paid staff getting stuck with that shit task in the unlikely event that a store ever decided to try and implement and enforce a chain-wide policy like that.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:29 AM on April 16 [6 favorites]


My other thought was "what if these gentlemen looked homeless?" I don't think anyone would be batting an eye at the employees behavior but, IMO, it shouldn't make a difference.

i mean, if you look at the video, it's pretty apparent they don't look homeless?

and as far as implicit bias goes:
Underwhelmed by the Starbucks CEO response. Folks just absolutely refuse to acknowledge racism.
It isn’t a management issue. If someone is racist, or bigoted in any other way, you can’t train it away. They don’t clock out of racism when they clock in for a shift.
posted by anem0ne at 11:31 AM on April 16 [9 favorites]


I assume, of course, that these diligent internet sleuths have video footage of similar incidents involving white people who were marched out of Starbucks in handcuffs after the police were called after they were asked to leave because they hadn't purchased anything.

Even better! They have stories about the time they (and oddly, they all happen to be white men) tried to use a Starbucks bathroom and were forced to buy a cookie first. Ergo: the incident in Philadelphia could not have had anything to do with racism! The logic is flawless, you have to admit.
posted by holborne at 11:36 AM on April 16 [4 favorites]


Yea, the "looking homeless" thing got me thinking about roles and appearances (beyond black, which is 1000% the main issue here) regarding careers as well. I actually don't like the framing of the "they don't look homeless" being a thing for a whole-nother reason. That is to say, sorry for the word salad here, I would hope the same conversation would be taking place if they were [black] guys that worked at a Jiffy Lube down the street or were UPS workers taking a break during the heat of the day or janitors or sailors or Micky Mouse characters from Disney World in full fucking regalia....

*calms down*

It bothers me that this is coming across, from some angles, as somehow more inexcusable because these two are apparently white collar (if not obviously so) POC which, to my ever more sensitive ear at least, implies that it would be somewhat less inexcusable if it was a blue collar POC because that's not something I'm ok with really. Again, main issue is certainly color and their plight as such but it just weighs on me anyway...
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:39 AM on April 16 [13 favorites]


most of those white men also don't seem to have seen the same video everyone else saw, otherwise they wouldn't be saying things like, "well, if only they were polite" or some other line that places the blame squarely on the black men.
posted by anem0ne at 11:39 AM on April 16 [5 favorites]


I think a lot depends on store-level management, and to blow this up into some systemic problem with the chain as a whole seems hasty (and maybe opportunistic).

I'd take the view that there is a systemic problem with society as a whole, and this is an opportunity to challenge that. Starbucks is probably no more racist than any other large business, but that still makes it really racist. Challenging that in this instance might make Starbuck, and perhaps other companies, a bit less racist in future.

Fighting systemic racism requires us to demand higher standards of behaviour than are currently practiced. That involves challenging companies and individuals for their unexceptional racism, not just the exceptionally racist stuff.
posted by howfar at 11:39 AM on April 16 [9 favorites]


most of those white men also don't seem to have seen the same video everyone else saw, otherwise they wouldn't be saying things like, "well, if only they were polite" or some other line that places the blame squarely on the black men.

You don't know the same white men I was raised around/with/went to school with and are now adults apparently.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:41 AM on April 16 [4 favorites]


I think we should understand the manager as not inconveniencing the black men but as very much threatening their lives by calling the police

when you call the police on black folks in America, you are making a deliberate choice in jeopardizing their lives. whether they're at Starbucks or driving through your neighborhood, if you call the cops on them, you are forcing them into a spectrum of interactions whereby there is a very large probability that they will end up dead

sure, it's better than shooting to kill a black teenager who who was literally just knocking at your door to ask for directions to his school but no matter the situation, if you call the cops on a person of color, no matter their job or their education, you are saying 'this is a life that doesn't matter to me at all because I am okay with it being erased from this existence,' a logic not far removed from that of overt white supremacists
posted by runt at 11:43 AM on April 16 [122 favorites]


I worked at Starbucks for only 18 months - but as far as I knew, the policy was that you never ask people to buy something to use the washroom or sit there. And you would never ask someone to leave unless they were bothering / harassing another customer or an employee. (If they slept, my manager would wake them up to tell them that they could stay, but they couldn't sleep). Maybe it's just a local/divisional thing, but our bathrooms were never even locked.

Like many others, I was simply outraged when I first heard about this. But when I mentioned this to a a friend of mine who had worked at Starbucks from much longer than me (over 10 years, full-time) - his reaction was quite different. He said, "They were asked to leave. After that they were trespassing. The employees were supposed to call the police." And I realized that his perspective was that of the long-time server who has often had to ask people to leave for a variety of reasons and deal with (often belligerent) people when they did not.

So it made me think more deeply about it: the manager/employee was wrong to ask them to leave, but the outrage machine maybe needs to think a bit more about the servers' situation.

And corporate should make a clear policy and post it and enforce it evenly -- frankly, it would get them a lot of good will if they passed a universal "you can use our bathroom regardless" rule.

/for those counting, I am white; my friend is not.
posted by jb at 11:44 AM on April 16 [5 favorites]


when I mentioned this to a a friend of mine who had worked at Starbucks from much longer than me (over 10 years, full-time) - his reaction was quite different. He said, "They were asked to leave."

Actually, multiple white witnesses to the incident have said that these men were NOT asked to leave, and that they only found out there was a problem when the cops showed up and they began to wonder if they would end up dead.

Looking homeless gets you treated a criminal.

SO DOES LOOKING AND BEING BLACK, AS THIS VIDEO VERY CLEARLY PROVES.

There was a bar in the town where I used to live that couldn’t legally have a sign that said “no blacks allowed”, so this was their solution: they had an incredibly long list of appropriate attire rules posted at every entrance, and it went like this:

-no saggy pants
-no visible underwear
-no white t-shirts
-no flat bill hats
-no large chains worn outside of shirt
-no long plain white t-shirts
-no athletic apparel
-no skullcaps
-no bandanas or do-rags
-no “grills”
-no sports jerseys unless collared
-no hoodies
-no tracksuits

I mean, do you think a SINGLE white boy was ever kicked out for wearing a white t-shirt? This was a sports bar in a college town! It was two blocks away from one of the sports arenas— do you think white kids were asked to leave when wearing a t-shirt with the local team’s logo on it? Or a white girl wearing a Nike shirt? If a middle aged white lady had a bra-strap showing on a summer day, do you think she was cited the no visible underwear rule and escorted out?

The rules are designed to be discriminatory, and the enforcement is always only designed to enforce a policy that would otherwise be unlawful. The manager of this Starbucks was counting on it.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 11:47 AM on April 16 [83 favorites]


You don't know the same white men I was raised around/with/went to school with and are now adults apparently.

i suppose i should have quoted, but my comment wasn't in reply to you, but to the comment right above yours, which said:
I assume, of course, that these diligent internet sleuths have video footage of similar incidents involving white people who were marched out of Starbucks in handcuffs after the police were called after they were asked to leave because they hadn't purchased anything.
Even better! They have stories about the time they (and oddly, they all happen to be white men) tried to use a Starbucks bathroom and were forced to buy a cookie first. Ergo: the incident in Philadelphia could not have had anything to do with racism! The logic is flawless, you have to admit.
which is how my comment:
most of those white men also don't seem to have seen the same video everyone else saw, otherwise they wouldn't be saying things like, "well, if only they were polite" or some other line that places the blame squarely on the black men.
fits in. i have no idea how you read it to be a response to you, because it doesn't even make sense as a reply?
posted by anem0ne at 11:47 AM on April 16


if you call the cops on a black person, especially a black male, no matter their job or their education, you are saying 'this is a life that doesn't matter to me at all because I am okay with it being erased from this existence,' a logic not far removed from that of overt white supremacists or white people's immediate ancestors.

That's a good point - I know many people, including myself, who would hesitate to call the police in any situation involving black men or boys, for just that reason. I was just surprised at my friends' reaction, and it made me reflect on my own.
posted by jb at 11:48 AM on April 16 [3 favorites]


It's not Starbucks, it's -places coded white- and coffee shops are coded white.

This, for sure, and the "looking homeless" part of this conversation make me think about the ways that our cities have chipped away at public space - just giveaways to car space or corporate-branded space where you can't just be a resident or a citizen, or a walker or a person waiting and enjoying the city or the sunshine - you have to be a customer. It sucks, it's bullshit, and it's bad.
posted by entropone at 11:48 AM on April 16 [26 favorites]


honestly, i really feel like the whether or not people look homeless thing is somewhat of an aside to this discussion?

these black men did not look homeless. the police were called on them because they were black and the manager did not like that.
posted by anem0ne at 11:50 AM on April 16 [23 favorites]


So it made me think more deeply about it: the manager/employee was wrong to ask them to leave, but the outrage machine maybe needs to think a bit more about the servers' situation.
Hence the problem was how to overcome not so much their conscience as the animal pity by which all normal men are affected in the presence of physical suffering. The trick used by Himmler — who apparently was rather strongly afflicted by these instinctive reactions himself — was very simple and probably very effective; it consisted in turning these instincts around, as it were, in directing them toward the self. So that instead of saying: What horrible things I did to people!, the murderers would be able to say: What horrible things I had to watch in the pursuance of my duties, how heavily the task weighed upon my shoulders!
- Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (1963)

it is possible to have an ethics and a morality even as you are a cog in the machine of oppression. to throw your hands up and say 'it's the system at fault, the individual has no real standing' is basically to defer accountability upwards, where it will never be sufficient
posted by runt at 11:51 AM on April 16 [56 favorites]


It is totally a valid response option here to just deal with the fact that some other customers may be annoyed sometimes by the lack of tables, and that this is the cost of having an environment where people feel comfortable hanging around. If you're suffering from a lack of sales because people hang around too long, you fix that in ways that don't target individuals, like time limits on the wifi. There's not really a point here where you HAVE to ask someone in particular to leave who isn't being openly disruptive. If you're a small establishment that's barely making ends meet, I'm more charitable, but this is Starbucks. They don't need a more aggressive policy. They want a relaxed atmosphere, and they can maintain that by just... not kicking people out who aren't actually making trouble, and dealing with the fact that there might be a tiny bit of lost profit involved in not being completely optimal about catching everybody who loiters.

But the store and the chain are the ones that need to accept the responsibility for those lost profits, and I do think that often it gets put on the lower-level employees: Why didn't you do more to keep our revenue up! Well, this is why. It shouldn't be the responsibility of the staff to deal like this with people who aren't making trouble unless the chain really wants the policy to be "harass everybody who sits down before ordering".
posted by Sequence at 11:55 AM on April 16 [5 favorites]


This video is beyond defending, and the manager's decision to call the police is crazy, and the police/manager's escalation of the issue is double crazy. The incident 100% sucks, full stop. And Starbucks should rightfully acknowledge that it was shameful and wrong and racist in this instance.

But it's a bummer that Starbucks more broadly is taking so much heat here for what appears to be a really stupid act at one store rather than a broader racist policy. Their company has been pretty good about extending health insurance to part-time workers (and providing free stuff, tuition assistance, some 401k and stock options, and other benefits), and for support of LGBT(QQA+) issues, and for pro-refugee policies (in direct response to Trump's shitty executive order), and for generally trying to be a decent corporate citizen. It's not Hobby Lobby or Walmart.
posted by AgentRocket at 11:58 AM on April 16 [19 favorites]


honestly, i really feel like the whether or not people look homeless thing is somewhat of an aside to this discussion?


Yes, that part of this conversation started with the quote below, and at no point did anybody in this thread say they looked homeless. instead people were talking about other ways that some people are prevented from using public or semi-public space.

My other thought was "what if these gentlemen looked homeless?" I don't think anyone would be batting an eye at the employees behavior but, IMO, it shouldn't make a difference.
posted by entropone at 11:58 AM on April 16


The attacking Starbucks as a company thing bothers me. It seems like the easy target here and avoids directly blaming the manager for their actions.
posted by bongo_x at 12:01 PM on April 16


> It would have to be a major, major push involving lots of corporate follow-up to built the consistency that is needed to make polices like that actually work at the local level.

Yeah, sorry for the derail on potential Starbucks seating policies. That's my fault for posting too quickly and too imprecisely.

My main point was that Starbucks corporate is better equipped to search for potential solutions than individual stores are.
posted by smelendez at 12:01 PM on April 16


So it made me think more deeply about it: the manager/employee was wrong to ask them to leave, but the outrage machine maybe needs to think a bit more about the servers' situation.

Well...it seems to me that the employee's reaction to the whole situation was a racist one, so my sympathy is limited. As has been pointed out above, the existence of a policy does not mean that such a policy is applied or enforced equally. This wouldn't have happened to me if I'd done the same thing, no matter what the policy says. Individual racism played a huge role here. Servers (and I've worked in a lot of places with a lot rougher clientèle than even the rowdiest Starbucks) do have a lot of shitty people to deal with, but that's not an excuse for identifying, without basis, black men as needing removal from your store. I'd have thought the reverse, in fact.
posted by howfar at 12:02 PM on April 16 [13 favorites]


It's not Hobby Lobby or Walmart.

there is absolutely no reason to see the worst of society and then to lower our bars to match their ugliness

Starbucks is culpable for being a corporation that aims to make money even if it obliterates human lives. it's not as if the manager wasn't beholden to the franchise owner who is themselves beholden to the investment he made and the money he's being bilked by Starbucks. policies to root out society's unwanted from public spaces exist in individual Starbucks because corporate makes a profit from bilking owners for supplies who then are incentivized to increase revenue (ie get more patrons ie remove patrons who they believe make other customers uncomfortable ie in this case anti-black racism) which trickles up to more supplies being bought from corporate

in all of this, the central tenet on everyone's mind is 'how do I make more money.' and, even though neoliberals and conservatives everywhere like to handwave all of the horrible shit that happens in the pursuit of money like inequality or pollution or the oppression of people of color or depressed wages or poverty or so on, we can hopefully do just a little better than that and ask 'what more could have been done'
posted by runt at 12:05 PM on April 16 [14 favorites]


Well and also, employees are representing the company in every interaction with the public. I am completely OK with Starbucks taking some heat for this. Because honestly? Not only is it broadening the conversation about racism in this country but also Starbucks won't say if the manager is working at another Starbucks location, which means that manager is totally working at another Starbucks location. So fuck them.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 12:08 PM on April 16 [20 favorites]


I live in Philadelphia. This whole situation was very fucking asinine for all kinds of reasons. Rittenhouse is a wealthy neighborhood, but it's also part of a main business and commercial district, and as such it is not remotely unusual in any way to see black men in a Starbucks there.

I don't know how to teach managers of coffeeshops not to be so terrified of black men that they can't do some basic store management rather than involve the police. I've managed a store. Come the fuck ON.

The police responded to this weaksauce complaint, but I can't get them to show up on my block at 3 am when the couple on the corner would escalate their screaming arguments to literally disturb the peace. C'mon, Police, ask some questions, use some damn judgement and assess that no actual crime was taking place. It's not your job to be at the beck and call of a store manager to help them enforce some alleged store policy or hearsay allegation of "trespassing."
posted by desuetude at 12:08 PM on April 16 [53 favorites]


I am completely OK with Starbucks taking some heat for this.

I'm okay with Starbucks taking some heat because this is the same company that decided to start those tone deaf "race conversations" a few years ago with zero idea what on earth they were doing, and they do not seem to have improved much since.

Also, they only engaged in meaningful reactions to this situation once the backlash got big-- their first instinct was "everything was done correctly and no one is getting fired". Until the company's first impulse is something better, then they need to get shook up and criticized when ugly things happen.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 12:16 PM on April 16 [19 favorites]


it's not as if the manager wasn't beholden to the franchise owner who is themselves beholden to the investment he made and the money he's being bilked by Starbucks.

Starbucks doesn't franchise.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:25 PM on April 16 [12 favorites]


To those who are - bewilderingly! - defending Starbucks in this situation, note that their first response (which you can see here) was very bad and they subsequently erased it from Twitter when the furor got louder. In other words: Starbucks would have been perfectly happy to issue a mealy-mouthed statement and leave it at that. They're only belatedly trying to make amends from fear of a backlash, not out of a desire to do the right thing. That's not the kind of company you want to defend.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 12:27 PM on April 16 [27 favorites]


the outrage machine

I'm going to come back to this noxious phrase, as it keeps popping up.

We could instead describe the reaction as being one of intelligent, informed people of color who experience this sort of thing all the time and probably know best how to address it, and probably know best whether it was one manager or an endemic issue, and how to point out the fact. As a white dude, I am definitely getting out of their way, and supporting whatever approach they see as best.

But, sure, "outrage machine" seems entirely fair.

There is a whole lot of armchair quarterbacking going on here and I would strongly suggest considering how much skin you have in the game, how much direct experience you have with this, how informed your opinions might be on how systemic this is and how to address it.

And then I would suggest putting a cork in it.
posted by maxsparber at 12:28 PM on April 16 [79 favorites]


Starbucks doesn't franchise.

lol, so they are direct owners? that's just a beeline to corporate culpability in this then
posted by runt at 12:29 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


And then I would suggest putting a cork in it.

100% agreed. Honestly, "outrage machine" is one of those phrases, like "social justice warrior" or "virtue signaling," that makes me tune out everything else a person has to say. Nothing good comes after that phrase.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 12:30 PM on April 16 [66 favorites]


Honestly, "outrage machine" is one of those phrases, like "social justice warrior" or "virtue signaling," that makes me tune out everything else a person has to say. Nothing good comes after that phrase.

The implications of these phrases for the internal life of the speaker--that they believe outrage and justice and virtue are only performative or recreational--makes me wonder if there are just a lot more sociopaths out there than we know about.
posted by Mavri at 12:34 PM on April 16 [34 favorites]


I don't really understand why in 2018 people still think that they need to carry water for multibillion dollar multinational corporations.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:35 PM on April 16 [63 favorites]


There was a bar in the town where I used to live that couldn’t legally have a sign that said “no blacks allowed”, so this was their solution: they had an incredibly long list of appropriate attire rules posted at every entrance

I've seen this list too. In more than one place.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:37 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


more like explicit bias amirite
posted by medusa at 12:38 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


I've seen this list too. In more than one place.

there's a good number of gay bars in Atlanta that have these (most of them in a bougie, rich area called Midtown, some of which have had even worse transgressions than that)

there's... a lot of fucking work to do
posted by runt at 12:41 PM on April 16 [10 favorites]


I think a lot of white people have a really hard time believing that this kind of shit is part of black people's basic life experience, even when they see it on fucking video, because it just never happens to them or anyone they know. Never. It would be unthinkable for me to sit down in a Starbucks to wait for a friend and end up getting arrested for tresspassing. It's just not something I have to deal with or even consider in passing.

Yet it's something that black people—even ones who carry every other marker of "respectability" that our society offers—have to account for continuously in their daily lives. I can see why it's tough for some white people to swallow the fact that the divide is just that stark. I can see why some white people would want to reach for some other reason, some error that black people must be committing to cause this stuff to happen to them, because as a white person something like this is absolutely unheard-of (unless you are visibly homeless, sure).

It doesn't make it right. But it's really easy, as a white person, to live your entire life inside a bubble where people are mostly reasonably respectful and are willing to cut each other a bit of slack here and there, and the cognitive dissonance of learning that that's not actually how the world works for a lot of people is pretty hard to get over, even if you're someone who at least theoretically bears black people no particular ill will. It doesn't make it right, but I can see why it happens.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 12:41 PM on April 16 [29 favorites]


The fact that homeless people are treated as subhuman in about a million ways is appalling, but it’s also a separate topic.

The takeaway here is not “poor people are treated badly too” but that in this situation the economic privilege of being middle class does absolutely nothing to offset the racial burden of being black. If you’re black you dont even have to be homeless to be treated like a homeless person.
posted by mrmurbles at 12:41 PM on April 16 [26 favorites]


I can see why some white people would want to reach for some other reason, some error that black people must be committing to cause this stuff to happen to them, because as a white person something like this is absolutely unheard-of (unless you are visibly homeless, sure).

I can't. Not unless they were literally born yesterday or miraculously came out of a lifelong coma or similar. It is literally not possible for me to believe any longer that white people can somehow still be innocently ignorant of this extremely obvious fact of life.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:45 PM on April 16 [19 favorites]


I'm not defending Starbucks. I feel like this store manager and these cops did something bad and 95% of the conversation is "What could Starbucks have done differently and how should they be punished?" I fear mostly because it's easier.

You can go on social media and get a response from the company, and they might change something. But since this manager and these cops did this, and this could have been any business in America, nothing has changed at all.
posted by bongo_x at 12:49 PM on April 16 [4 favorites]


DING DING DING. Looking homeless gets you treated a criminal. Years ago, when I was homeless, I got pulled out of a diner by the police, with no warning from the staff, and accused of panhandling people, which I had not.

That was what I was thinking. There are varying levels of privilege we all enjoy. I don't doubt that if I had walked in and asked to use the restroom I would have had no problem. Others will face discrimination against such requests. Shaming companies or individuals who are back actors in these situations to me is secondary to what we can learn from these discussions and work to make the world a place of equal accommodation.
posted by ShakeyJake at 12:52 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Well, I didn't mean to imply that cognitive dissonance was the whole answer, although it does often cause people to double down on denial, rationalization, and reactionism if they aren't willing and able to change their worldview. And I'm not saying that refusing to accept the world outside your Bubble of White Privilege isn't a form of racism. But I think it's a big part of it for a lot of white folks, especially the kind of white folks that I grew up around and live around, for whom the very existence of black people is largely theoretical.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 12:56 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


The implications of these phrases for the internal life of the speaker--that they believe outrage and justice and virtue are only performative or recreational--makes me wonder if there are just a lot more sociopaths out there than we know about.

I've checked several times - I don't have any of the symptoms of sociopathy or psychopathy. Neuroses I have in plenty.

I use "outrage machine" to refer to the largely online phenomenon of reacting to situations in completely binary, people or companies are EVIL!!! or GOOD!!! ways that erase the nuance and humanity of people. I hate this when people do this to victims of injustice (eg someone commited a crime, therefore can't also be a victim) - but I also hate it when people do it to perpetrators (they did a bad thing, so they are a bad person and deserve to have their life ruined).
posted by jb at 1:03 PM on April 16 [13 favorites]


In a capitalist society, places like diners or coffee shops are functionally public spaces. In some sense, most businesses are. The notion of "public accommodation" in civil rights law gets at this reality. But still, we lack a notion of an individual right to go to those places, and I think we need one. Like, kicking someone out of a Starbucks, even if their behavior was unruly, should be seen more as a restriction on that person's mobility than a routine exercise of Starbucks' property rights.

QFT.

The most egregious example of this that I can think of is Apple's "town squares." It takes that concept to its most obnoxious possible conclusion - conjuring the image of the beating heart of a community to describe a place that's like a library, but for [strategically obscured] shopping, for multi-thousand-dollar goods, without all the books, and excluding all manner of marginalized people. Woo!
posted by mosst at 1:03 PM on April 16 [4 favorites]


You can go on social media and get a response from the company, and they might change something. But since this manager and these cops did this, and this could have been any business in America, nothing has changed at all.

Something similar happened to W. Kamau Bell, here's the twitter thread[@wkamaubell], it's worth reading all the way through.
As a Black man who was kicked out of a coffee shop in 2015 (not Starbucks but The Elmwood Cafe in Berkeley, CA) I have some thoughts. When I was kicked out, I was nervous they might call the cops. But they didn't. Probably because I was with my wife & her white skin.
posted by Fizz at 1:04 PM on April 16 [14 favorites]


I don't really understand why in 2018 people still think that they need to carry water for multibillion dollar multinational corporations.

Well...
there are just a lot more sociopaths out there than we know about
posted by PMdixon at 1:08 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


I use "outrage machine" to refer to the largely online phenomenon of reacting to situations in completely binary, people or companies are EVIL!!! or GOOD!!! ways that erase the nuance and humanity of people.

Yeah, as a white person, maybe don't apply that phrase to things that don't affect you.
posted by maxsparber at 1:14 PM on April 16 [30 favorites]


I heard some dude complain this morning on some radio program that he often found drug paraphernalia in starbucks bathrooms and it was the employees' responsibility to report 'loiterers' because the paying customers had the right to enjoy the premises without these inconveniences

I was thinking to myself maybe it was better to have explicit racism back and be done with this whole charade.
posted by savitarka at 1:17 PM on April 16


There are varying levels of privilege we all enjoy. I don't doubt that if I had walked in and asked to use the restroom I would have had no problem.

This. Heck, if I'd been meeting a friend at my local Starbucks I wouldn't have even thought to ask first before using the washroom. (Is the washroom at this particular Starbucks habitually locked or difficult to find without assistance from an employee? I'm curious whether asking first was a necessity for these guys or a social adaptation.)

I worked for a while in food services, and though my boss instructed us that the washrooms were for Customers Only (there was evidence people were going in there to shoot up), I never turned anyone away. Because everyone has to pee dammit, not just people with money to spare.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 1:21 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


It's not just the store manager, it's the baristas, the regional managers, it's the whole organization that seems not to care much for the well-being of anyone other than Starbucks! Business owners and workers should be a positive influence on the communities in which they are a part.

What is the price that Starbucks is willing to pay to continue take your money, while not giving a damn about you, your family, your community? As yet, "guideline reviewing"! They already have training systems in place for these issues, and look where it got us? They "hear us", and it's business as usual.

This event is an ugly snapshot of something that has been going on for a long time.
posted by the letter at 1:24 PM on April 16 [4 favorites]


I was thinking to myself maybe it was better to have explicit racism back and be done with this whole charade.

i don't know about you, but have you noticed that explicit racism is more or less back?

i mean
- you've got pretty much everything any republican says
- you've got this starbucks manager calling the cops on black people thing
posted by anem0ne at 1:27 PM on April 16 [19 favorites]


So it made me think more deeply about it: the manager/employee was wrong to ask them to leave, but the outrage machine maybe needs to think a bit more about the servers' situation.

This is begging the question in a rather dramatic fashion, wouldn't you say?
posted by holborne at 1:32 PM on April 16 [6 favorites]


I watched the video and to me, it's the same bullshit about pride and power. When a store manager asks you to do something in their store, you're supposed to do it. They have power in there. Of course, all the time there are folks who say, "Nooo! You don't have power over me, prove it!" And then you have an incident. I feel some degree of sympathy for the store manager insofar as customers are horrible and customers who flip shit at the staff are common and a truly insufferable part of the job. They definitely don't get paid enough for the crap they put up with.

As a manager (apparently female) to have to choose which side of the line to walk on has to do with feelings of power and powerlessness, fear, justice, etc.. If you feel you are on the side of right in terms of your power station, you may press the issue. That's where race can and most definitely does come in to play. Maybe it was there in the manager's reaction to those guys and their decision to call the police? I don't know, but it was definitely there in the response.

To go back to desuetude's point about what the hell with all these cops showing up to deal with this call?! Police definitely have an issue with power and who has it. That's why their bias is to let stuff pass for white people that they won't for black/brown people. White people have more power. They are offered deference from the start. A black/brown person is not allowed any deference. That's baked in to our society. I mean, seriously, were there five officers there at the end?

And those men.... We ask of brown/black people to lay down their dignity at the first request. It's disgusting. Put your dignity down, now, or you'll have hell to pay. If they don't do it, the system is all over them and bystanders just cluck-cluck. I could swear I heard a comment on that video from someone sitting next to the recording person, "They're so well-spoken." Did I imagine it?
posted by amanda at 1:34 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


I also hate it when people do it to perpetrators (they did a bad thing, so they are a bad person and deserve to have their life ruined).

In this scenario, I'm okay with severe consequences for the perpetrator, because imagine having an arrest on your record? For doing nothing? What if this was 2001 and no one had smartphones or Twitter? These men would have ended up in court over nothing, and that would harm their future job prospects, their finances, who knows. Plus the humiliation of getting dragged away in cuffs. So the manager getting fired and shamed is completely proportional.
posted by AFABulous at 1:38 PM on April 16 [26 favorites]


Anyone who thinks a simple arrest can't ruin someone's life should google Kalief Browder.
posted by AFABulous at 1:41 PM on April 16 [41 favorites]


I feel like this store manager and these cops did something bad and 95% of the conversation is "What could Starbucks have done differently and how should they be punished?" I fear mostly because it's easier.

it is absolutely not easier to prosecute one person than to deal with societal illnesses, to talk about wider issues that would affect more than just one Starbucks in one city

you're basically saying that we should be scapegoating the manager for being complicit in white supremacy because this is... harder? because the issue of white supremacy and all the conversations we're having here about the banality of systemic racism, its effects, corporate accountability in 2018, etc is... easier?

it's easier to light a torch and set fire to an individual. but that's not getting rid of the plague that's killing your village
posted by runt at 1:46 PM on April 16 [4 favorites]


Just because I had to know, someone says, "They're so well-behaved" at around 7:48 in this video. Which just speaks to our need to specially categorize brown/black folks into good ones versus bad ones. Because, heaven forfend if you should be ill-behaved when getting unjustly arrested in an embarrassingly public place.

Not that I think the person saying that is a bad person or has ill intent or feeling. It's just another facet of our culture that's just *right there* and not even under the surface.
posted by amanda at 1:48 PM on April 16 [11 favorites]


online phenomenon of reacting to situations in completely binary, people or companies are EVIL!!! or GOOD!!! ways that erase the nuance and humanity of people.

corporations aren't people, I don't give a hoot what five conservative, business-friendly justices have to fucking say. corporations are there to make money for shareholders and in the process that fucks up a lot of goddamn shit in really terrible ways

you show me a corporation that is selflessly giving and barely turns a profit for all the philanthropy it does and I will show you 20 more that have inflicted human rights abuses on a massive scale
posted by runt at 1:51 PM on April 16 [9 favorites]


Wanting change and progress without using punishment is a radical ideal. I do believe in it. But society isn't there yet, and wishing away an overzealous, vigilante 'outrage machine' will harm vulnerable groups more than dominant groups. Take the very use of negative, pejorative language, which itself creates a distortion of the meaning of ideas like outrage and justice; and so maybe people who use those pejoratives could examine their own internalized power interests.
posted by polymodus at 1:57 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


So it made me think more deeply about it: the manager/employee was wrong to ask them to leave, but the outrage machine maybe needs to think a bit more about the servers' situation.

No. I mean there is no such machine, one, so it can't particularly think anything. But if you are in a public facing role and you choose to respond to mistreatment by adopting an authoritarian attitude, that's on you. It doesn't let you off the hook for behaving in a racist manner or require me to consider the validity of your authoritarian orientation.

(hello 2/3 of the flight attendants I know! Thanks to United's treatment of Dao I now know that most of you are untrustworthy)
posted by PMdixon at 2:01 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


regarding the concept of the "outrage machine":

should we not be outraged that black people regularly get treated poorly? have cops called on them for no good reason? are shot at because they have something, anything in their hands?

if outrage is not the proper response, what is?

after centuries of systemic exploitation and decades of bigotry that seeks to shame, humiliate, and murder black bodies, erase their nuance and humanity, view them as constant threats for merely existing...

outrage is bad, all because one white person might be uncomfortable?
posted by anem0ne at 2:05 PM on April 16 [54 favorites]


because if we're talking about outrageous machinery that should end, in my opinion it's the machinery of systemic oppression that seeks to crush people of color that should be questioned and terminated, not the megaphone grabbed by those people of color shouting back in outrage.
posted by anem0ne at 2:08 PM on April 16 [17 favorites]


i mean, if you look at the video, it's pretty apparent they don't look homeless?

Exactly, neither one of them is dressed any differently than what I've seen white people wearing to work or even to the courthouse when reporting for jury duty.

Seeing their expressions and having a good idea about what's going through their heads brings back so many truly awful memories I have of being treated similarly.

Knowing that if you so much as twitch, cough, raise your voice, move too slowly, move too quickly, respond to questions, fail to respond to questions, look at the officers, fail to look at the officers, mention that you know your rights, or ask any question at all about what's happening to you, your actions will be used by the officers and moderates and people who are pretty far to the left buuuut and people who are definitely not racist and absolutely 100% have never ever ever ever done anything like this and would comply submissively and quietly if the cops ever did anything like this to them yessir to excuse your beating or murder as absolutely justified.

Seeing white people in your line of sight doing what the police are mistreating you for. Seeing shame and fear on the part of those minorities present who want to intervene but don't want the baleful eye of the law turning on them. Seeing a few smirks among the white people present.

But also wondering -- even if it's only a super tiny part of you doing the wondering -- if maybe, just maybe, you did do something to warrant this. Like even if this is the twenty-fifth time you've suffered because of racism, things can't be that bad, can they? Is this really happening, that you're being treated like this because you're black? I mean, it's happened before, a lot, but maybe you really did do something different this time? Don't want to possibly over-react and fuel the outrage machine. So let me review what I did while I'm being humiliated and possibly injured....

At 44, I guess I somewhat qualify as an old, but this incident reminds me too vividly of an event in my younger days that still weighs heavy on me. About 26 years ago, a friend and I found ourselves at a mall in Fort Lauderdale in the wealthy white part of town.

I can't remember what brought us there, but we knew we were treading on thin ice, so we looked for a pay phone -- yeah, this was that long ago! -- so we could call a friend to come get us, as we lacked money for the bus.

Find one outside the mall -- safest bet, don't want to be viewed as lingering near a store -- but a little white kid is using it. We're waiting there quietly when a lawman rolls up, asks us what we're doing. We tell him we're waiting to use the phone that the little kid over there is using.

"Y'all need to leave. This phone isn't working. Y'all need to leave," he informs him with a smile on his face and his hand near his weapon. Not on it, mind you. But "in the vicinity" as they like to say.

So we look at the little white kid using this non-working phone, then we look at each other and...we walk away in silence.

Same as it ever was.
posted by lord_wolf at 2:18 PM on April 16 [85 favorites]


Reading this thread as a woman who has passed for white her whole life, raised by a mixed couple ... my parents put up with a eff ton of shit growing up. They never talked about a lot of it except in context of being directly asked, but my kid asked me a few times why I’d always buy a milk or hot choc or cookie when I dragged them in to use the restroom or use it myself. I used the line my folks did, that it was the polite thing to do. It’s a voluntary pee tax I’ve been paying all these years. Maybe not every time (been broke) but just a flip on the script.

:mind blown:
posted by tilde at 2:18 PM on April 16 [8 favorites]


Just to confirm, everyone read the 'I have a friend' part. Some of just chose not to address it, because it's a pattern we see a lot.
posted by polymodus at 2:28 PM on April 16 [6 favorites]


Knowing that if you so much as twitch, cough, raise your voice, move too slowly, move too quickly, respond to questions, fail to respond to questions, look at the officers, fail to look at the officers, mention that you know your rights, or ask any question at all about what's happening to you, your actions will be used by the officers and moderates and people who are pretty far to the left buuuut and people who are definitely not racist and absolutely 100% have never ever ever ever done anything like this and would comply submissively and quietly if the cops ever did anything like this to them yessir to excuse your beating or murder as absolutely justified.

This runs through my brain every time I've been pulled over or questioned at a border crossing. It's to the point that I now avoid crossing to the US (I live quite close to the border), so even if there's some amazing sale to be had, for me it's not worth the risk of being treated like a criminal, or worse, being straight up arrested as one for not saying or doing the right thing in just the right way. I think at this point it's pretty much a phobia. I pray to God that I will never have to be in a situation where it's just me and some police officers. I hate this feeling and this sense of dread.
posted by Fizz at 2:31 PM on April 16 [8 favorites]


> "At least one customer is reporting POC temporarily being assigned to this location."

Ah yes, "sales and tips are going to be down at this store, better make POC suffer for it. In the possible absence of this suffering, please accept them as the face of the problem at the problematic location."

> It bothers me that this is coming across, from some angles, as somehow more inexcusable because these two are apparently white collar (if not obviously so) POC which, to my ever more sensitive ear at least, implies that it would be somewhat less inexcusable if it was a blue collar POC

I'm not so sure.
posted by rhizome at 2:52 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


Oh boy do I have feelings on this, having loitered in basically a metric fuckton of Starbucks, etc. Because this is kind of a perfect storm of a lot of shitty things.

First - there isn’t a lot of accessible public space, and even the public spaces that exist frequently try to limit their usefulness so people don’t loiter. How many electrical outlets for phone charging and bathrooms are available in your average government building that the public will be allowed to use? The only place most people know that will allow both phone charging and bathroom use is places where people are expected to linger for hours. Cue Starbucks.

Second, Starbucks’ business model is essentially built on being the “cool place” for a certain kind of people to hang out. Like, people can and do linger at the McDonalds or what have you, but Starbucks is the place where “cool, hip, middle-class-or-better” people hang out. They don’t care so much if you buy something as if you look like the type of person that other people who buy things will be comfortable and feel at home /around. And that means that they do enforce “buy something or no bathroom” policies against homeless people, those who exhibit either poor hygiene or strange behavior, or the visibly poor - anyone who might chase away the largely white-middle-to-upper-middle-class crowd that uses it. And /class signaling is affected by race/, to the degree that people routinely overestimate the socioeconomic stature of white people and routinely underestimate the socioeconomic status of POC.

I am not sure that Starbucks, as a company, can survive the death of this business model. Their coffee isn’t that good. It’s essential to them it be a clean place that reads as “safe” to people with implicit bias. Their customers largely have implicit bias. I don’t know if their managers and baristas do or not, but I don’t need to, because their business model depends on enforcing implicit bias.

Third, we have laws on the books that maintain corporate property and we grant the right of enforcement to men with guns - thus outsourcing the cost of security at a business receiving funding to the public. Starbucks and other companies depend on the police enforcing “trespassing” law on anyone they deem to have violated it.

So you have a situation where public space is constantly being limited, the only places that have semi public space are private companies that can enforce class standards on their customers, and back it up with guns, and it seems very much like the poor or people who are perceived to have low status are just constantly being chased out of public space - which reinforces the problem.
posted by corb at 2:52 PM on April 16 [25 favorites]


Fizz, I don't travel to the US all that often, but I haven't experienced any harsher questioning in the last few years than I had say a decade ago, or pre 9/11 even. I'm a Muslim brown guy approaching middle age. The one difference I have noticed is that the border agents on the Canadian side are nicer now, maybe because they know I must be happy to return to Canada. My experience isn't yours but on the whole I don't think crossing the border is as bad as we might fear it to be.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:59 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


First - there isn’t a lot of accessible public space

Man how did that ever come to be?
posted by PMdixon at 3:31 PM on April 16 [8 favorites]


I have been thinking about this incident a lot.

For work this weekend, we drove a bunch of cars with taped-over logos and fake license plates around a couple of city blocks for over an hour, nobody said squat. (It's for an industrial video for a client.) I cannot imagine this would have ended in anything other than arrest and impounding if our team had different demographics.

I am so happy these billboards have started to go up around town.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 3:39 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


First - there isn’t a lot of accessible public space

Man how did that ever come to be?


Yep, and more to the point of this incident, there aren’t enough publicly accessible restrooms. Basic bodily functions denied. And if you’re black, basic bodily functions denied and you risk arrest, prosecution, and execution.
posted by Celsius1414 at 3:43 PM on April 16 [28 favorites]


Man, every time I think about what happened to Kalief Browder, I just want to break something. Anyway, I guess Starbucks is just having a bad week.
posted by black8 at 3:59 PM on April 16


Reading this thread as a woman who has passed for white her whole life, raised by a mixed couple ... my parents put up with a eff ton of shit growing up. They never talked about a lot of it except in context of being directly asked, but my kid asked me a few times why I’d always buy a milk or hot choc or cookie when I dragged them in to use the restroom or use it myself. I used the line my folks did, that it was the polite thing to do. It’s a voluntary pee tax I’ve been paying all these years. Maybe not every time (been broke) but just a flip on the script.

I will always buy something from a place if I, or my kids, have to use their restroom because it's polite. Is this some defence mechanism that my parents taught me too?
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 4:07 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


I will always buy something from a place if I, or my kids, have to use their restroom because it's polite. Is this some defence mechanism that my parents taught me too?

I'm a white dude so I could presumably pee free of charge, but I always buy something if I step into a store to use the facilities. And have no idea when or why I started that. I guess I take the "Restrooms are for customers only" signs seriously.
posted by COD at 4:15 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Is this some defence mechanism that my parents taught me too?

More like preemptiveness but no context for your experience. *shrug*

Was reading a few other things here and there on the ‘net ... I’ve had a few people threaten me with calling the cops on me, expecting me to back off, then being surprised when I didn’t.

/ending derail
posted by tilde at 4:18 PM on April 16


Are y'all really gonna harp on this shit?

Because this is sounding awfully a lot like trying to blame the black men for getting arrested because they didn't buy one black coffee.
posted by anem0ne at 4:18 PM on April 16 [17 favorites]


W. Kamau Bell (mentioned upthread ) has developed his Twitter thread into a CNN essay: I know what it's like to get kicked out for being black

Note from his Twitter thread: "& even though ppl are encouraging ppl to support local coffee shops, check to make sure they aren't assholes 1st. Elmwood Cafe apparently does a lot of social justice work in Africa, but that doesn't erase the racism of Berkeley. & I've heard from ppl that have seen racism there. — (@wkamaubell) April 15, 2018"

Here's the This American Life episode by Bell (transcript, scroll down to Act Two) discussing how he was asked to leave Elmwood Cafe in Berkeley for being black and Bell's thoughts on how to talk to his biracial children about racism.
posted by nicebookrack at 4:26 PM on April 16 [6 favorites]


From Bell's CNN essay:
That's why I am against just firing the employees who are deemed the guilty parties. That just makes the employees the scapegoats for America's entire history of institutionalized and structural racism. This isn't just about a couple of rogue baristas ignoring the employee manual. I'm sure the Starbucks manual says, "DON'T BE RACIST/SEXIST/ABLEIST/TRANSPHOBIC/HOMOPHOBIC/JERKHOLE-IC!" all over it. It has to. Starbucks is a major corporation. But I'm guessing the manual doesn't tell its employees how not to be racist/sexist/ableist/transphobic/homophobic/jerkhole-ic. This is key. I remember how the owner of The Elmwood Cafe told me that he didn't train his employees to be racist. But he didn't have to train be to be racist for them to act in racist ways. You have to un-train people. Racism is baked into America's cake. It is the flour, the white, bleached flour.
posted by nicebookrack at 4:32 PM on April 16 [19 favorites]


Because this is sounding awfully a lot like trying to blame the black men for getting arrested because they didn't buy one black coffee.

Not what I’m going for. I’m saying maybe my folks were less forthcoming about systemic racism than they likely should have been. I know I’m having lots of conversations about all this with my kids, who have asked to and attend marches in the last year.
posted by tilde at 4:33 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Starbucks doesn't franchise

Outside the US they do, within the US they are classified as a "licensed store"

Starbucks has 10,000 stores worldwide, some 4,400 of them are 'licensed shops'.
Basically the owners rent the Starbucks brand by paying a licensing fee, not so different from a franchise.
posted by Lanark at 4:44 PM on April 16


The attacking Starbucks as a company thing bothers me. It seems like the easy target here and avoids directly blaming the manager for their actions.

The manager was definitely the person directly responsible, but they were acting as Starbucks' agent. Legally, that makes Starbucks responsible. From a moral perspective, Starbucks is still responsible. As W. Kanau Bell points out, Starbucks gave the manager the power to call the police. What has Starbucks done to make their employees accountable for using that power? Does Starbucks monitor it? It's hard to believe they don't. Starbucks' employees know they can be demoted or dismissed for doing the wrong thing. Is one of those things a failure to expel loiterers? Did the manager believe they might be punished if they didn't call the police? That's ultimately why the manager does all the other manager-type things, like monitor supply levels, cleanliness, and staffing.

Let's suppose that the manager knew that Starbucks wouldn't have wanted them to call the police, but because the manager was incredibly racist they went ahead and called the police anyway. That wouldn't let Starbucks off the hook! Why are they giving that authority to someone who's going to use it to discriminate? Why aren't they making sure that their employees don't use it to discriminate?

We are all responsible for our actions. Starbucks has a special duty of care (in a moral sense) because of its immense power to affect social norms. It's a multiplier for social racism because it grants its employees the ability to regulate social places. On the most generous interpretation of the facts Starbucks is indifferent to their responsibility and their indifference is reflected in thousands of stores worldwide. This manager is responsible for this act of racism, but Starbucks is responsible for a whole lot more.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:20 PM on April 16 [18 favorites]


I've worked at StarBucks in New York on Astor Place, and honestly don't find any of this surprising or necessarily racist. The bathroom door was always locked and we only gave out a key after establishing the person asking was a paying customer. I made exceptions, and was burned a couple times by people using the bathroom to do drugs, or staying in there basically forever, or basically destroying it. If someone asked me to use the bathroom, refused to buy anything, then hung out for a while, then refused to leave when asked, I would consider calling the cops. It never got that far in any of the cases I was involved in, because people would always leave when I told them they had to buy something or leave. It would have blown my mind if I had asked someone to leave and they refused.

Anyway, my wife tells me she goes to StarBucks all the time, uses the bathroom without thinking, and can't imagine being asked to leave. I believe her, and everyone here. But in my own experience something like this happening wouldn't necessarily have been because of racism. It could have just been business as usual.
posted by xammerboy at 8:55 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


I don’t see how any of what you just said applies to the incident in Philadelphia. As has been noted more than once now, the men were not asked to leave. They didn’t know anything was going on or that anyone objected to their presence until the cops showed up.
posted by holborne at 9:16 PM on April 16 [10 favorites]


Yeah it might be insightful to go back and ask, what is racism? And if you've learned about racial profiling and structural discrimination and implicit bias, and come to believe those are legitimate ideas for what's going on in society, then those are forms of modern-day racism, and thus this instance was racist.
posted by polymodus at 9:40 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


It could have just been business as usual.

But racism IS business as usual.
posted by AFABulous at 9:46 PM on April 16 [17 favorites]


racism IS business as usual

...and it's this very point that the actual outrage machine exists mainly in order to chaff.
posted by flabdablet at 9:57 PM on April 16 [4 favorites]


It also bears remembering that the manager was acting in her official capacity as a representative of Starbucks as a company. You bet your ass that the CEO and the corporation owe an apology and an explanation and a change in their policies.

If the manager decided to be racist on her personal time and was discovered to manage a Starbucks, then maybe there could be an argument for “don’t blame the company for the actions of one shitty employee,” but the fact is that one shitty employee can have enormous ramifications for the entire company. James Damore is another example—the amount of publicity, employee alienation, and legal liability he generated was incredible.

Claiming that this is just the “outrage machine” at work and treating it like an exception that isn’t indicative of a larger problem is a grave disservice. All you’re doing is telling victims to STFU and that existing systemic injustices should stay in place because the victims don’t matter. Holding the company responsible is how things get changed for the better.
posted by Autumnheart at 10:10 PM on April 16 [5 favorites]


What struck me about the videos (didn't watch full length though) was that none of the other patrons seemed to stand up and talk to the police, like humans to humans, just surreptitiously taking their videos - the local real estate guy, Yaffa, was clearly surprised when he looked around the place, I thought, like, are you guys seeing the same thing I'm seeing?

I would like to imagine that where I live, people would at least engage the police, explain the situation and defend the two guys, even tell off the manager. Is the police in the U.S. that much more threatening? If I stood up from my coffee (not that I would ever have it in a Starbucks), to speak to them, would they say "Sir, I want you to sit down, now" implying a threat in this "assertive" (but really just bullying) way?
posted by Laotic at 11:07 PM on April 16


The NYTimes article this post links to says they were asked to leave:

On Thursday, the two men asked to use the coffee shop’s restroom. An employee refused the request because the men had not bought anything, officials said. They sat down, and they were eventually asked to leave. When they declined, an employee called the police.
posted by xammerboy at 11:13 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


> What struck me about the videos (didn't watch full length though) was that none of the other patrons seemed to stand up and talk to the police, like humans to humans, just surreptitiously taking their videos

The woman who took the video can clearly be heard speaking up, telling the police that the men did nothing wrong and that she saw the whole thing. There was nothing surreptitious about it.
posted by desuetude at 11:13 PM on April 16 [7 favorites]


If I stood up from my coffee (not that I would ever have it in a Starbucks), to speak to them, would they say "Sir, I want you to sit down, now" implying a threat in this "assertive" (but really just bullying) way?

Yes, absolutely. I would like to think I would talk to the police, but my heart would be in my throat, and I'm a white man.
posted by AFABulous at 11:25 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


none of the other patrons seemed to stand up and talk to the police, like humans to humans

DON'T TALK TO THE POLICE

Anything the witnesses can say that will persuade the police can be said from a distance of ten feet away minimum while the camera is recording

Y'all really think a buddy-buddy man-to-man chat between a random bystander trying to cozy up and a gaggle of cops mid-arrest is going to go smoothly? Has that ever worked on any episode of COPS (already highly edited to favor the cops' POV), let alone in real life?
posted by nicebookrack at 11:28 PM on April 16 [13 favorites]


I would like to imagine that where I live, people would at least engage the police, explain the situation and defend the two guys, even tell off the manager.

Witness Melissa DePino: "A bunch of people in the store were standing up and talking to the girl behind the counter and the cops, asking why this was happening. And then they freaking put them in handcuffs and perp-walked them out the freaking store."

Witness Kant Khatri: "Six or seven of us went outside and were asking the police officers why are they doing this. They eventually took the two away."

🤷‍♀️ Sorry, witnesses! Y'all engaged the police, explained the situation, defended the two guys, and told off the manager, but y'all just didn't meet the minimum quorum of Protesting White People for your efforts to be effective against police officers with guns!
posted by nicebookrack at 11:43 PM on April 16 [19 favorites]


Sorry, missed that. What kind of police are these?
We went through a phase in the 2000's when bars were taken off windows on police stations and the officers were taught to be friendlier, so we may have ended up with a police force which is not so inaccessible.
Come to think of it, there was an event (wouldn't say an incident) in our local pub, where two guys were taken out and seemingly investigated next to their car - people in the pub assumed they were burglars and the police found stolen goods in the car, but I left before the matter was settled. However, no obvious show of force was made.

I wonder if, by framing the situation as a resolution of some imminent danger to the patrons, the police in this case are making it easier for themselves to act with such severity.
posted by Laotic at 11:51 PM on April 16


The bathroom door was always locked and we only gave out a key after establishing the person asking was a paying customer. I made exceptions, and was burned a couple times by people using the bathroom to do drugs, or staying in there basically forever, or basically destroying it.

I bet that caused problems for you and I'm sorry you were put in that position. But surely paying customers did that too, and in any event the cost of the cheapest item you sold wouldn't compensate your employer for the basic cost of cleaning the bathroom, let alone someone "basically destroying" it. People (including paying customers!) asked to use your bathroom because most public facilities have been closed and the costs have been pushed onto private businesses. I understand many businesses welcomed the extra traffic initially, but it turned out that private enterprise can't compensate for the loss of a public good.

I hope you can recognise that it was wrong of your employer to make bathroom access a way of driving profit, like parking validation or free WiFi. That's why you were made the lavatory police, not because the people asking to use your bathroom didn't deserve the dignity of an accessible lavatory. You were both oppressed by a system that is designed to extract money from people's misery, and I'm sorry.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:14 AM on April 17 [21 favorites]


What kind of police are these?

The standard US kind who can shoot black children anywhere they like and still keep their jobs? Honestly I’m surprised any bystanders tried to intervene at all, it’s pretty fucking dangerous to talk to an American cop.
posted by harriet vane at 2:04 AM on April 17 [16 favorites]


nicebookrack's video is entertaining and sobering at the same time. It seems to insinuate that the jury system is (partly) to blame for the adage of "don't talk to the police, under any circumstances". I find it strange.

I asked about the type of police, because I assume New York would have some kind of 'municipal' police who deal with this kind of public order infractions. We have them, they are paid by cities and are quite the laughing stock, but at the same time are probably the appropriate level of response.
posted by Laotic at 2:52 AM on April 17


They have that here, too, and in this case they're called the Philadelphia Police Department. They have over 6500 officers and have bombed their own citizens in living memory.
posted by rhizome at 3:23 AM on April 17 [7 favorites]


The bombing was ordered by the mayor so you can’t pin the decision on them, the execution is a different story.

It’s worth noting for people who spend any time here (I lived on the same block as this Starbucks, was pissed when they put it there when it could have been someplace good), but the racial tension in philly is just palpable. For so many white people who commute into center city every day, it’s their only interaction with black people.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 3:45 AM on April 17


That video is entertaining, sobering, and terrifying! The YouTube description includes the professor's essay on how to invoke the 5th.

I wish it included the audience questions. For one, I want to know, what if people (citizens, activists, etc.) followed his advice. Then the cops could detain/arrest a person anyways, for not being compliant with their questioning.
posted by polymodus at 4:23 AM on April 17


So they are saying she never asked them to leave and she says they did?

I still don't understand how "we're waiting for someone" is a thing you need to call cops for.

I've got many years experience as both a server and patron of that exact situation.

I definitely call racism on this one.
posted by sio42 at 4:46 AM on April 17


[One deleted. Sorry, but "I'm white and also wasn't allowed to use the bathroom" anecdotes aren't really that helpful here except for stirring up a big fight. The news (and the anger) is about the arrests; not being allowed bathroom access and actually being arrested are not equal experiences.]
posted by taz (staff) at 4:50 AM on April 17 [10 favorites]


I work in a public library so I had a bit of a difficult time with this thread. The manager obviously handled this incorrectly. Unless she thought that approaching the men would have led to urgent and immediate physical danger, she should have been there with the police. It was fairly telling in the longer video that the manager wasn’t even close by. I think the main issue is that she basically threw these guys to the wolves and walked away.

At the same time, I know that a lot of times well meaning people with desk jobs aren’t exposed to how many incidents public facing employees handle on a regular basis. Unlike Starbucks, you can sit in a library all day long without buying anything as long as you follow the behavior guidelines, yet we still end up calling library police (yes, they are real police) on a nearly daily basis for visitors who among other things threaten other customers and staff, masturbate in public, sexually harass and physically assault staff, or refuse to leave after staff has instructed them to for violating behavioral guidelines. You’re a sitting duck in public service sometimes. You never know if the new person coming up to the desk is going to hit on you or hit you. It’s challenging enough in a building that is actually intended for the full public. I can’t imagine what it’s like in a store setting without contracted security, where employees don’t really get paid enough or trained enough on what to do in random incidents that you can’t even make up, and where the whole point is just for people to come in and buy something.

That said, even giving the manager the benefit of the doubt, she still handled this situation egregiously. Even if they were asked to leave and refused, if she had been fully well intentioned, she would have been over there with the cops and when the friend showed up, she could have intercepted the officers, dismissed them, and apologized profusely to the men. I feel that a lot more responsibility should fall on the officers who: showed up in a much larger number than would have sufficed for a typical call like this, isolated the men by intentionally moving chairs to create a separated space, stood too close to the seated men to have a respectful conversation, ignored the input of bystanders, ignored the input of the friend who showed up to meet them, refused to allow the men to exit the situation, and then arrested them.
posted by donut_princess at 5:36 AM on April 17 [15 favorites]


I mean, I may work at a desk job now, but I'm also old enough to have worked at bookstores with attached coffeeshops during my youth when they still existed.

I still can't give the manager benefit of doubt, especially given the context.

One would have to be willfully blind to race relations, knowing that some lives don't matter as much, to call the police on two black men sitting at a table who weren't bothering anyone else, according to multiple other witnesses.
posted by anem0ne at 5:47 AM on April 17 [4 favorites]


One would have to be willfully blind to race relations

Also just willfully blind. I bet a third of the people walking on the street within that block during the daytime are black. I bet a third of the people in that Starbucks are there to piss in the bathroom and not buy anything (closest public bathroom is in the Barnes and Noble and that's on the second floor!). Its not like this was in some lilly white suburb Crate and Barrel where a white manager was like "a black person in the store? this is totally out of the ordinary!". This was a normal occurrence, until the manager thought it shouldn't be one.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 5:56 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]


The NYTimes article this post links to says they were asked to leave

Representatives for Starbucks told the NYT that the men were asked to leave, and the NYT helpfully repeated that PR claim without a qualm. All of the actual witnesses to the event say that none of them ever heard such a request. Given how many times the official Sbux story has changed once they realized there were witnesses and video evidence, forgive me for being less interested in their damage control press release than the words of people who were actually there. Once these two men say they were asked to leave, I'll believe the claim. Until then, lol no.

At the same time, I know that a lot of times well meaning people with desk jobs aren’t exposed to how many incidents public facing employees handle on a regular basis.

I have worked nightmarish public facing jobs and I certainly do know how bad it can be, and yet this has absolutely NOTHING to do with this situation. Two men quietly waiting to order until the third member of their party arrived is the exact opposite of an "incident", except that the manager wanted it to be one.

When two black men are punished and put in grave danger for their careful adherence to standard norms of politeness, responding with "yes but some customers really are disruptive!!" is wildly inappropriate.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 6:38 AM on April 17 [35 favorites]


At the same time, I know that a lot of times well meaning people with desk jobs aren’t exposed to how many incidents public facing employees handle on a regular basis. Unlike Starbucks, you can sit in a library all day long without buying anything as long as you follow the behavior guidelines, yet we still end up calling library police (yes, they are real police) on a nearly daily basis for visitors who among other things threaten other customers and staff, masturbate in public, sexually harass and physically assault staff, or refuse to leave after staff has instructed them to for violating behavioral guidelines.

One of the mistakes that I think we often make is to read our experiences onto experiences that don't have any but the most passing similarities, often because we're anxious about our experiences.

Honestly, being a public librarian would be really hard. My mother was a librarian before libraries turned into places of last resort for homeless and ill people and spaces where people watch porn in public, and even then she was troubled by the same "what do you do when someone is loud and threatening, won't leave and you can't make them" stuff. Seriously, this is a real problem that needs to be dealt with on many vectors since it has so many causes.

But calling the cops on someone because you are in a situation with really lousy options isn't what happened here, and what you sometimes do because you have bad choices isn't a good parallel.

As you know, even if you ignore the danger and the social justice aspects, calling the cops on someone is awful. It's disruptive, it's time-consuming, it makes people feel bad and afraid. This manager pro-actively decided that just leaving the guys alone, which caused no problems, was worse than causing the hassle and disruption of calling the cops. She decided she'd rather deal with the cops and escalate the situation than just ignore it. You don't have to be a social justice hero to leave those guys alone - it's the normal response, because calling the cops is awful. She pro-actively chose racism.

"Never call the cops" is a hard rule to follow if you're in charge and someone is physically threatening people, and this does happen. But I think we need to avoid bringing that conversation into this one.
posted by Frowner at 6:52 AM on April 17 [24 favorites]


What people need to get deeply is that current state of affairs is that when you call the cops, the circus may well come to town. You no longer have the narrative. And if you call them on a black person, you’ve significantly changed their odds of ending up dead that day. That’s the calculation that this manager and Starbucks needs to add to their “training.” That whole scene is a toxic soup of volatility, some of which has nothing to do with the individuals involved.
posted by amanda at 6:54 AM on April 17 [3 favorites]


To clarify - these guys weren't doing anything wrong. The "situation" was in her head.
posted by Frowner at 6:54 AM on April 17 [11 favorites]


it's the complete disconnect from the real world that horrifies me. black people are extrajudicially executed every single day by police in this godforsaken country for 100% no reason at all whatsoever and to not know that, or to know and not care about that, is monstrous.
posted by poffin boffin at 6:55 AM on April 17 [27 favorites]


The guy in the Twitter video asking 'What is going on' is a local real estate developer named Andrew Yaffe. He's the guy who the other guys were there to meet. He showed up as they were being arrested. They were still arrested ...--carter

This is a key point that only the last link bothered to mention.

“Why would they be asked to leave?” Andrew Yaffe asked on a video. Yaffe runs a real estate development firm and wanted to discuss business investment opportunities with the two men. “Does anybody else think this is ridiculous?” he asked people nearby. “It’s absolute discrimination.”

Yaffe, the colleague they said they were waiting for, shows up. The police say it is too late at this point because they didn't leave when asked twice.

Why didn't they leave when asked? Because they saw a number of other (white) customers who were also waiting for friends and not ordering anything. They were basically standing up for themselves against racism.
posted by eye of newt at 8:51 AM on April 17 [10 favorites]


Yes, the correct answer is why should I leave? What is the problem?
posted by agregoli at 8:57 AM on April 17


Why didn't they leave when asked? Because they saw a number of other (white) customers who were also waiting for friends and not ordering anything. They were basically standing up for themselves against racism.

My sister and I have gotten into arguments about this type of situation. I'm so worried about the cops that I'd just pay or leave because for me it's not worth it, my dignity will just take a hit and I'll walk away. My sister would absolutely not take any shit and speak up and make a big deal out of it (and it is a big deal).

It angers me that I'm sort of weak in this way, that I'd just shrug it off and keep the anger for later, but I fear and distrust authority figures that much. It's heartening to know that these men did stand up for themselves, I just don't know that I am capable of this myself.

Sighs.
posted by Fizz at 9:43 AM on April 17 [4 favorites]


Getting arrested isn't just a neutral-value incident of minor temporary inconvenience to uphold your principles. Getting arrested is a huge financial and personal risk in a country where your access to healthcare and support services usually depends on your job, at-will employment means you can be fired for zero (unprotected) reasons, and social media plus search engines mean that your mugshot will live on the internet forever tied to your name, even if the charges against you are bogus. If you're arrested and held for a day before the police release you with a heartfelt apology, are you sure you'll still have a job after you were no-call no-show absent from work?
posted by nicebookrack at 10:03 AM on April 17 [21 favorites]


I defer to no one in my distaste for Starbucks' core product, and I have enjoyed the broadly anti-corporatist comments from many on this thread, but this seems like a remarkably positive and praise-worthy effort to educate their employees, at considerable expense.
posted by PhineasGage at 11:34 AM on April 17


8000 stores closed for a day, but paying the entire staff to go through education to prevent incidents like this in the future (this is not a franchise, those 8000 stores employ their employees).

Honestly, they could have done some other measure that wouldn't have cost them this much. This strikes me as a move not for the PR value, but to try to fix this problem.

"The curriculum will be developed with guidance from several national and local experts confronting racial bias, including Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative; Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund; Heather McGhee, president of Demos; former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder; and Jonathan Greenblatt, ceo of the Anti-Defamation League. Starbucks will involve these experts in monitoring and reviewing the effectiveness of the measures we undertake."
posted by el io at 11:42 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]


This is somewhat echoing corb's comment, but I think one of the reasons this incident happening at Starbucks resonates is because it exposes the ugly core of what Starbucks is. A place where you can go to sit without having to rub elbows with the lower class McDonald's denizens. The overpriced beverages are the price of admission. Even if you are a starving college student, that $3 (or whatever) gives you a bit of respite well worth the cost. At least that is their unstated business model. Unfortunately in America, "black" defaults as underclass, so when one of us strolls in, it already cheapens the advertised experience. It's allowable, one supposes, as long as the black person in question pays full freight, maybe a venti and a pastry, so as to make it clear they're one of the middle class. But for them to sit there and just wait, lowering the property value of other customers' frappuccinos with their sordid existence, well that is totally unacceptable and requires corrective measures.

When I arrange to meet friends at a regular restaurant, I never sit and wait alone at the table. I always wait outside. The part that is hitting me now is that it's because I'm black, and if I were white, I would apparently think nothing of sitting around for 15, 20 minutes or more just on the vague promise of more guests arriving. How mind blowingly convenient you guys have it.
posted by xigxag at 12:03 PM on April 17 [25 favorites]


effort to educate their employees, at considerable expense.

This reads to me like everybody's gonna be watching a one-hour webinar, which will also be posted ("made available") on the SB site. Nothing against the people involved, who are undoubtedly doing good work in general, but they seem like a group of the most anodyne talking heads and not who I think of as experts in confronting racial bias. Grr.

Starbucks has over $20B annual revenue, the relative expense of this is smaller than an eyelash. Oh sure, a board member might have to endure an uncomfortable question about this at the next stockholder meeting as a one-time charge or something, but it's not like it's an ongoing thing. For them not to be a day late and a dollar short would have required defining it as a business risk and something to spend profits on. Say, like making these kinds of scenarios a gatekeeping part of their interview process, at least for managers.
posted by rhizome at 12:12 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]




Well I had a bunch of things to say about this but I just got an approach from Starbucks about something called a Senior Technical Program Manager at Starbucks HQ in Seattle so I think I'll hold my peace. How did they know?
posted by scalefree at 1:06 PM on April 17


From what I've witnessed over the years, whatever it takes to make it so that they can avoid doing work these guys will often do it no matter how bad it is for victims or how much it might embolden the criminals.

I can't help but think that a non-zero number of the later cops who showed up did so for a show or to join in on the beat-down. Once you have that many men standing around, the only way to save face is to keep going. They have to escalate to make it real. Racial bias, meet toxic masculinity.
posted by amanda at 1:12 PM on April 17 [12 favorites]


Is Starbucks Racial Bias Training Day a one-and-done deal and then it's over? Will future Starbucks employees also receive racial bias training or will they be expected to pick it up by osmosis? The interests of both justice and more effective training would likely be better served by one hour of training per month in perpetuity instead of a one-day workshop.

I worked in retail for a US national chain that wasn't a fifth of Starbucks's size, where of course store employees got no racial bias training either. We did get sexual harassment training--which as I recall was a 20-minute online video that new store employees watched once, with no effort made to check if you'd actually paid attention or not. By contrast, every store received dozens to hundreds of pages every week in emails and mailing packets from the corporate office, dictating the exact layout of sale displays, candy arrangement in the checkout lines, etc. Surely a megacorp like Starbucks also has strict regular updates about branding and store specials and the exact preparation of sous-vide eggs. Can't they have regular tutorials about Customer Service Without Being Racist as well?
posted by nicebookrack at 1:19 PM on April 17 [9 favorites]


Is Starbucks Racial Bias Training Day a one-and-done deal and then it's over? Will future Starbucks employees also receive racial bias training or will they be expected to pick it up by osmosis?

The article I read said it was going to become a part of their orientation process for new employees, which reinforces both my "webinar" theory. I'll be surprised if the stores are closed for more than two hours, and I predict it'll be more like one hour: 20min intro, 20min talking head video, 20min "any questions?"
posted by rhizome at 1:25 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


Seriously though, I do think Starbucks holds some culpability here as they've deliberately engineered their storefronts as being a "third place" in between home & work, where people can linger for hours without fear of being rousted. They've since lightened up but contrast that with pre-2016 Panera that had policies & procedures designed to discourage people from overstaying their welcome during peak hours. They went so far as to enforce time limits on customer WiFi during those hours.

My point is, if you want to create a space that's about more than just commerce & have it be meaningful beyond just a PR talking point, you need to be explicitly inclusive in your policies & procedures & conduct regular training of your employees to make sure they understand the boundaries of what you envision. This day of sensitivity training is a step in the right direction but it remains to be seen how much of one.

I am up for that job though, that wasn't a joke. It came in right as I was getting ready to write this comment. Just an odd bit of synchronicity.
posted by scalefree at 1:33 PM on April 17 [3 favorites]


Police Release 911 Call That Led to Starbucks Arrests. It's 20 seconds long.
911 Operator: Philadelphia Police Operator 363, how may I help you?
Starbucks Employee: Hi, I have two gentlemen in my cafe that are refusing to make a purchase or leave. Um, I'm at the Starbucks at 18th and Spruce.
911 Operator: All right, police will be out as soon as possible.
Starbucks Employee: Thank you. (Bye?)

1) So the employee calling did tell 911 that the men had refused to make a purchase or to leave, which implies that a Starbucks employee asked them to make a purchase or leave, which contradicts what other witnesses at the Starbucks say happened. It will be extremely interesting to see if Starbucks has any security cameras recording the interior of the store, and if so whether those cameras show a Starbucks employee approaching the men before the 911 call. If an employee didn't approach them to speak but instead called out to the men, it's more likely that another witness would've overheard that.

2) Neither the 911 operator nor the employee caller discussed how long the men had been in the cafe "refusing to make a purchase or leave." Does entering a Starbucks and delaying a purchase for literally any non-immediate period of time really warrant sending police out as soon possible??
posted by nicebookrack at 3:13 PM on April 17 [8 favorites]


The witness stories I've read have all said "I didn't hear them make a request" or similar. The general story as I understand it is that one asked to use the bathroom and the employee said it was for paying customers -- or possibly that they had to buy something to use it, I'm a little fuzzy on that -- and the guy basically said "nevermind" and went back to sit down.
posted by rhizome at 3:57 PM on April 17


911 is supposed to be for emergencies. That was not an emergency.

I *have* to assume when she asked them to leave (presuming she did so) they told her they were waiting for a friend. At which point the manager in mind, is obviously in the wrong.

My personal take on this is that the manager was very much in the wrong, and acted out of (conscious or not) racism. That in itself is not Starbucks' fault; employees do inappropriate things - the question is how did and will Starbucks deal with it.

At the moment it looks like they are going to deal with it better than any other corporation of its size would. Perhaps their initial reaction wasn't appropriate, but it looks like they are trying to do the best they can at the moment.

Perhaps in the near future we'll be railing against how sub-par their coffee is, or questioning the ethics behind their supply chain (they might make progress on the latter, unlikely they'll improve the former).
posted by el io at 4:10 PM on April 17 [5 favorites]


911 is for everything nowadays, even the police will say "just call 911."
posted by rhizome at 4:16 PM on April 17 [4 favorites]


As far as the (too-long-)after-the-fact corporate reaction, I'm glad that the PR team is wading into the comments on their facebook post about the upcoming shutdown and taking responsibility in a pretty convincing way.

As a sample, one gross comment:
As a company you have to do what you have to do but that being said, an employer should not have to train their employees to be decent human beings. They should already be one & that should be one of the reasons they were hired to begin with.
Maybe train your employees on how to deal with loitering in general & not make it a color issue?
And the corporate response:
We cannot deny that this is a race issue, which is why we are implementing this training.
Or another:
So now millions of people can’t have Starbucks?? It was one incident in a country with thousands of locations. Rare accidents are going to happen. Talk to all employees for 10 minutes to make sure it doesn’t happen again and then get back to work.
And response:
There are countless examples of implicit bias resulting in discrimination against people of color, both in and outside our stores. Addressing bias is crucial in ensuring that all of our customers feel safe and welcome in our stores.
And thankfully those responses show up much more visibly than the other random crap on that post since they're from the official page.

I'm sure plenty of folks here would prefer even stronger responses, but it'd definitely be progress if everyone responded to whiny conservatives that well.
posted by mosst at 6:46 AM on April 18 [7 favorites]


I don't mean to pile on or anything, but

There are countless examples of implicit bias resulting in discrimination against people of color, both in and outside our stores. Addressing bias is crucial in ensuring that all of our customers feel safe and welcome in our stores.

Another form of implicit bias is that they have chosen a vague goal, "our customers feel safe and welcome," over a specific and measurable one: "not hiring racists."
posted by rhizome at 8:19 AM on April 18


I keep coming back to the power matrix which seems very key in this whole Starbucks debacle. And the role of our government and cities which seems increasingly narrow and defined more by corporate interests than civic values. I can identify with the manager as the woman boss who probably is challenged regularly on her authority. First, because she’s the boss, somewhere in there because she’s a woman, and if she is any kind of visible minority, that too. When you are in the position of fighting for control all the time, your “wins” may come out in bad ways. Such as exerting it over people that you feel cannot win against you due to their power position. She cannot do same to two obnoxious white guys over age 35, well-dressed, she’d have the whole cafe against her and she’d definitely lose her job.

So, she calls 911. She sounds utterly collected and unfazed. She’s calling from Starbucks, a civic/corporate partner! She’s on the side of right and the city services are there for her and her company. The cops who show up have their own power issues. They’ve been summoned by corporate and these guys, these guys specifically aren’t going to get away with it. Regardless that “it” seems to be a minor if not entirely baseless charge. These black men are supposed to move along because they were told to do so.

Those guys know it and so fuck that. They make all these entities go the distance. If they are willing to publicly humiliate themselves and illustrate the gross tragedy of our bankrupt system, go ahead, put the cuffs on, don’t be shy, you absolute racist water carriers for corruption.

Starbucks as an entity can only do so much. I mean, there shouldn’t be homeless people sleeping in the coffee shop, drug addicts shooting up in the restroom, mentally ill folks masturbating in the library. That shouldn’t be happening. A manager of a Starbucks shouldn’t be regularly calling 911. And if cops cannot use their brains and deductive reasoning then they shouldn’t be available for these calls. And two black men should be able to sit in a coffee shop without being hassled. I hope they get a lot of money out of this.
posted by amanda at 9:00 AM on April 18 [5 favorites]


Another form of implicit bias is that they have chosen a vague goal, "our customers feel safe and welcome," over a specific and measurable one: "not hiring racists."

I disagree with this. For one, I fail to see how "don't hire racists" is any more specific and actionable than that.

I thought that the biggest lesson of the last decade or so of social justice education is that you can't just divide the world into "racists" and "other." We all operate within (and are a part of) oppressive and racist systems. We also all have implicit bias that affects our views and actions. Recognizing and fighting that must be an ongoing effort for any person that wants the world to be a better place. Treating racism like it's a binary label for a person is what causes reactions of "I'm not a racist!!!" instead of "Wow, that thing I did was hurtful and rooted in bias. I'm going to address that."

Furthermore, while racism is a major and everpresent issue, it's not like race is the only thing that Partners need to be aware of implicit bias about. I imagine that ableism is another big one that comes in up day-to-day interactions, but there are also classism, ageism, etc.

Obviously yes also Starbucks shouldn't hire people who espouse racist views, or people who don't share their ethos about racism being a thing that exists and needs to be fought. But not hiring those people is only the tiniest first step toward addressing racism.
posted by mosst at 2:06 PM on April 18 [15 favorites]


Treating racism like it's a binary label for a person is what causes reactions of "I'm not a racist!!! "

The taboo label reading of the term "racist" cedes too much to systemic racism (i.e. systemic racism is the real cause of this language). The word racist literally means a person who shows prejudice against other races. Somehow, it became a no-no word, which speaks to how much white fragility (for instance, not that only white people can be racist) is culturally dominant.

I get that there are reasons that directly criticizing someone for their behavior is often not helpful. But a cow is still a cow.
posted by polymodus at 4:02 PM on April 18 [3 favorites]


1. LA Fitness Fires 3 Employees Who Kicked Out Two Black Customers in New Jersey

2. As always, VSB is on with A Comprehensive List Of Places That Should Also Close For Racial Bias Training

3. And for anyone who still wants to whataboutism these incidents, it's worth looking at the Starbucks Facebook thread when they announced their closing for the bias training. The amount of white aggrievement, tears, and aggression... well it explains why we're where we are, as a country. SIGH.
posted by TwoStride at 4:47 PM on April 18 [14 favorites]


Tamika Mallory, national co-chair for the Women's March, has come out and identified the people truly responsible for racism in Starbucks. Yes, it's the Jews. Linda Sarsour, her co-chair, reportedly joined in, but if so she may have deleted her posts.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:58 PM on April 18 [1 favorite]


Oh wow, Tamika Mallory actually turns out to be an unapologetic anti-Semite. I never could have predicted that one.
posted by holborne at 7:34 PM on April 18 [1 favorite]


I fail to see how "don't hire racists" is any more specific and actionable than that

Racism is comprised of acts. Acts where a person reinforces, persists, continues the racist society in which we are all marinating. So you're right, you can't divide the world, but SB could include situational interview questions that can reveal whether or how much a candidate will act prejudicially when given the option. In this way it is binary in how a person is either doing something or is not, like walking, but "racism'ing" doesn't really roll off the tongue.
posted by rhizome at 7:37 PM on April 18


"Discriminating"
posted by Burhanistan at 8:28 PM on April 18


Per their GMA interview and video evidence from the Starbucks in question, "Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson arrived at Philly @Starbucks at 4:35 for a meeting. Records show 911 was called ... at 4:37." (link is to a tweet)

I would really like everyone in this thread who has tried to turn the discussion into one about “disruptions” and “rules” and the claims of the manager to understand how absurd all of those attempts to reframe this incident have turned out to be. Two minutes. TWO MINUTES. They were inside the store for 120 seconds before their presence was deemed unacceptable and their lives put in serious danger.

Imagine how long it would take to an employee's attention in a busy Starbucks, ask to use the bathroom and be denied, then say “okay we’re meeting someone, we’ll order when he gets here.” Maybe check your phone to see if your third party has an ETA. Is it two minutes yet?
posted by a fiendish thingy at 7:53 AM on April 19 [23 favorites]


I'm trying to find additionally corroborated sources on top of Instagram (and boosted by Daily Mail), but it seems:

a) name of the manager who called has been publicly released
b) seems like she's at least low-key racist, which surprises nobody except, seemingly, a lot of white people...
posted by anem0ne at 9:16 AM on April 19




seems like she's at least low-key racist

lol, every white person in America is complicit in white supremacy. also her 'low-key racism' (ie being frustrated that people don't all speak English fluently) is absolutely a very normal opinion that most white Americans hold

her racism here is emblematic of white American culture. she is not an outlier whatsoever in this respect
posted by runt at 12:44 PM on April 19 [6 favorites]


Here is interesting commentary from Felix Salmon on Starbucks' upcoming staff training day: "Why the Starbucks Racial Bias Training Is More Than Just Good PR".
posted by PhineasGage at 12:45 PM on April 19


They were inside the store for 120 seconds before their presence was deemed unacceptable and their lives put in serious danger.

y i k e s, can't believe i couldn't imagine how this shitshow could turn out to be even more horrible than i originally thought.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:45 PM on April 19 [5 favorites]


this shitshow could turn out to be even more horrible than i originally thought.

The police were called; we know very well how it could have been even more horrible.
posted by TwoStride at 12:51 PM on April 19 [3 favorites]


Starbucks has hired some heavy-hitters, including former Attorney General Eric Holder, the NAACP’s Sherrilyn Ifill, and Equal Justice Initiative Founder Bryan Stevenson to help design the session

none of those folks, especially Eric Holder, sparks confidence that they are designing an anti-oppression course that would be radical enough to actually produce real change

respectability politics is just internalized white supremacy. if you don't name the thing and acknowledge its pervasive existence in society, you will never understand oppression in its real form
posted by runt at 12:52 PM on April 19 [3 favorites]


My prediction is that it's going to be a video of talking heads describing how much Starbucks isn't racist. "Members of the Starbucks family don't..."

Six weeks until the closure, that's about a perfect amount of time to produce a short video with the same ol' same ol'.
posted by rhizome at 1:00 PM on April 19


jesus fucking christ obviously it would have been worse if they were fucking murdered by the police. i'm not a fucking moron. i'm talking about being disgusted by new information we did not already have. we KNOW they were not murdered by police.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:04 PM on April 19 [6 favorites]


The Philadelphia Police Commissioner, Richard Ross, is walking back some of his earlier phrasing: "For starters, I should have said the officers acted within the scope of the law and not that they didn't do anything wrong," Ross said Thursday. "Words are very important."
The commissioner said new policy guidelines will be unveiled soon on how officers should respond to similar calls.

posted by TwoStride at 1:31 PM on April 19 [3 favorites]


"Ross said he was not aware that Starbucks allows people to sit in stores without making a purchase."

AYFKM
posted by rhizome at 1:59 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]


I, too, was not aware that you could sit in a Starbucks without making a purchase, but if I were responsible for armed officers called upon to expel people from (what I understand to be) a place of public accommodation I would take care to inform myself of the facts before opening my yap on TV. Part of the problem seems to be described in this recent OpEd by Taru Taylor on Truth-Out: From "Probable Cause" to "Reasonable Suspicion": The Subversion of the Fourth Amendment

If all police need is reasonable suspicion, not probable cause, then it's probably a bad idea for them to seek more information before acting. If they have conflicting data they have to weigh it up and people might question their judgment. But if all they know is "I was told the store manager asked us to get these guys out of the store" then they have their reasonable suspicion of trespass right there.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:11 PM on April 19


And now: Golf Club Calls Cops On Black Women Members who were apparently "playing too slowly." Because yes, that's absolutely something the cops should be called about.
posted by TwoStride at 9:22 AM on April 24 [3 favorites]


AYFKM II: The AYFKMing

That co-owner should be forced to divest.
posted by rhizome at 9:23 AM on April 24


Ugh, the guy and his wife own the club. Fuck them.
posted by rhizome at 9:29 AM on April 24 [1 favorite]


You want to know what else happened right here at the University of Minnesota? The Northrop concert space called police from apparently all over the metro area on the annual Somali cultural night, an event which has been held here with great success for twenty years.

The media coverage is garbage, but here is a tweet with the Somali Students' Association statement.

Basically, the venue management was super racist when even planning the event (for instance, they said that they couldn't use marker to mark people's hands for re-entry because black sharpie "wouldn't show up" on brown skin) and then preemptively called the cops at the end of the event. The cops then proceeded to rough people up, arrest two attendees, mace a bunch of youth, grab a woman's hijab and forbid event organizers, who had come out to deal with them, from going back into the venue to get things like car keys and bags.

The police claims about this whole thing make no sense -they claimed there was a forty-person brawl inside the theater, but somehow this was dealt with by two arrests outside the theater well after the police arrived (because arresting two people is enough to deal with a forty-person rumble....which I guess it is if the rumble is imaginary), youth were supposedly brawling inside the theater at a big family event, somehow it was necessary to knock down a bunch of women in heels (because they were brawling too, I guess) and of course it was necessary to keep the student association's board members from going back into the venue to collect their stuff because that was just too dangerous.

And of course the mainstream media is all "the facts are disputed", not "the police have a history of lying about their interactions with black people, also Minnesota trades in negative stereotypes and racial profiling of Somalis".

A lot of people are just complete trash. They must go through life just looking for a time to stick the knife in and thrilled when they find it.
posted by Frowner at 9:44 AM on April 24 [14 favorites]


Meanwhile, in the World of Wypipo: ‘Left it there by mistake:’ Jackson man faces misdemeanor charge after gun found in Starbucks restroom (emphasis mine)
According to a criminal complaint, police were dispatched to the Starbucks store on 18th Avenue near Washington Street for a report of a firearm found in a restroom. An employee indicated that afternoon, he was cleaning the customer area when he entered the bathroom and “immediately noticed the baby changing station was slightly ajar.” When he tried pushing it shut, he wasn’t able to get it closed, so he opened it further and noticed a black object in the lower left corner closest to the door. He thought it was a strap wedged in which was preventing the table from closing, so he reached in to pull it out. That’s when he realized it was a firearm. He said he pulled out the firearm, which was holstered, and walked with the firearm into a back room — notifying a manager immediately.

The manager said when she was notified, she immediately called police. She indicated she removed the magazine but didn’t check to see whether there were any rounds inside the chamber.

When it was processed, police learned there was an unfired round in the chamber and a magazine with additional unfired rounds, and the safety was on.

While police were at the Starbucks, the complaint says Emery came to the counter and said the firearm was his. At the police department, he said he owned the firearm, and “left it in the restroom.” He said he went to the Starbucks shortly before noon to use the WiFi and that afternoon, he went into the restroom.
Left unsaid is that this "responsible gun owner" will get his gun back after getting a slap on the wrist.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:11 AM on April 24 [3 favorites]


Working out while Black. Well, trying.
posted by tilde at 6:07 PM on April 27


Black men arrested at Philadelphia Starbucks reach agreement with city
Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson “have decided not to pursue a lawsuit against the city,” city spokesman Mike Dunn said. “Instead, they approached the city and agreed to release the city and its employees from any and all claims for a payment of $1 to each of them.”

Nelson and Robinson also asked the city to create a program for Philadelphia public high school students with aspirations of becoming entrepreneurs. The city has agreed to fund a $200,000 grant for that program, Dunn said. Nelson and Robinson will not receive any of that money, he said.
Wow, those men are lovely people.
posted by gladly at 10:57 AM on May 2 [10 favorites]


They're really inspiring. They refused to accept discrimination but they didn't fight or make a scene: their dignified behaviour underscored the fact that they were the victims of a racist policy. And now they've accepted a nominal sum (which is the city's admission of fault) while directing the rest to support a program for young entrepreneurs - that is, the sort of people who would be harmed by Philadelphia's enforcement of commercial discrimination. That's probably going to be more effective at changing police behaviour than a financial settlement would have been.

I hope Starbucks gets soaked, though: if corporate money is speech they need to make a fulsome apology.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:58 PM on May 2 [7 favorites]


Chelsea Whitaker writing in Law Officer: The Starbucks Incident
Chelsea Whitaker is a Dallas Area Police Officer and member of the 2005 Baylor Bear Basketball Team that won the National Championship. Her desire is to give others #perspective in order to #bridgethegap. She is a frequent contributor to Law Officer.

posted by Joe in Australia at 7:43 PM on May 9 [4 favorites]




That story just keeps on getting crazier. First of all, this wasn't the first time Braasch had been racist around Siyonbola, as the article notes. Also, Braasch is apparently two years away from a PhD in Philosophy specifically “to address the sub-human legal status of the world’s women at the source, the philosophical foundations of law.” The topper to the whole thing is that she's apparently one of those devil's advocate types that makes the exact same arguments when asked to support slavery as she does in opposing burqa bans and hate crime legislation.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:42 AM on May 10


A couple more things to add to the list, too, courtesy of The Root: Plus, of course, just from the last couple of weeks' worth of news: spending two minutes Starbucks while black, golfing while black, working out while black, etc.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:51 AM on May 10 [4 favorites]


To be fair, the Pizza Inn did not actually accept the coupon.
posted by rhizome at 10:04 AM on May 10


Apparently Braasch is a member of the NYS Bar. I wonder if they know about her habit of filing false reports with the police?
posted by mikelieman at 10:11 AM on May 10 [3 favorites]


One of the things that I was thinking about when reading the officer’s account, and also when reading some of those Root links, is how often the criminal law is or has been used to prevent not things that are egregious violations, but /annoyances/.

The officer talks specifically about how businesses use trespassing law to deal with irritations - homeless people doing things, large groups of drunk people using the bathroom. Essentially, using the police to enforce social mores when social mores have broken down or when groups of people don’t behave within another group’s expected mores.

And when the law is enforcing people’s social mores - “don’t be too loud, don’t stand out, don’t annoy other people” it by definition will be discrimination against anyone who doesn’t fit into the dominant class, because the law as it is enforced is /designed/ to keep out people who aren’t the dominant group.

I think genuinely the hardest thing to surmount when it comes to fighting this kind of discriminatory policing is going to be white, middle class folks coming to the realization that many of the laws that exist on the books only continue to do so because they are only being enforced against people and activities that are annoyances -sometimes severe annoyances - for those same people. Littering. Loud music after 10PM. People lingering in your public business without buying something. Spitting on the sidewalk. /Having a charcoal grill in a no-grill area./
posted by corb at 10:35 AM on May 10 [2 favorites]




I think genuinely the hardest thing to surmount when it comes to fighting this kind of discriminatory policing is going to be white, middle class folks coming to the realization that many of the laws that exist on the books only continue to do so because they are only being enforced against people and activities that are annoyances -sometimes severe annoyances - for those same people

I think you will find that many of them are quite aware of that and see it as the correct state of the world.
posted by PMdixon at 2:09 PM on May 10 [2 favorites]


Apparently Braasch is a member of the NYS Bar. I wonder if they know about her habit of filing false reports with the police?

Indeed she is, since 2013. Well, right offhand, I can think of one ethical rule she's violated twice, and that's without even looking at the text of the rules. I wonder if the Attorney Grievance Committee will be interested.
posted by holborne at 3:04 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


I think you will find that many of them are quite aware of that and see it as the correct state of the world.

What I should have said is, "I think the hardest thing to surmount is Nice White Middle Class Ladies Who Think Of Themselves As Progressive But Still Want Pristine Lives Unmarred By Anything They View As Distasteful". But I think you and I may substantially agree on these issues.
posted by corb at 4:01 PM on May 10 [4 favorites]


But I think you and I may substantially agree on these issues.

Yeah, as far as I can tell we do. Sorry --- it's rude on my part to pull out things for insufficiently pessimistic phrasing.
posted by PMdixon at 4:17 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


The cops weren't called, but watch the disgusting video of the white faculty member manhandling Black students for graduating too enthusiastially and culturally specifically while Black...
posted by TwoStride at 6:47 PM on May 10


Littering. Loud music after 10PM.

I do think these are valid annoyances and any mefi question that says "my neighbors do this" will get lots of answers about confronting the people, calling the landlords. Which is what should happen, not calling the police. The police, ideally, should say "get lost" to these types of complaints, but in many place they have nothing better to do. (Not in my district; I thought I heard gunshots and the dispatcher said, "well, did you hear anyone screaming? okay then.")
posted by AFABulous at 6:18 AM on May 11 [1 favorite]


OK, but people who intentionally litter should be instantaneously springboarded into the sun.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 8:23 AM on May 11 [4 favorites]


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