The two black men arrested last month for sitting at a Starbucks in Philadelphia without ordering have settled with the city for $1 each and a promise from officials to set up a $200,000 program for young entrepreneurs.
They have reached an undisclosed financial settlement with Starbucks.
An onlooker’s video of the arrest of Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, both in their early 20s, went viral. It raised outrage on social media, with many observers pointing out that Starbucks SBUX, -2.05% outlets are often full of people tapping away on their tablets or waiting for others, with and without a coffee or scone at hand.
Nelson and Robinson were led away in handcuffs by a half dozen policemen after the Starbucks manager, in the posh Rittenhouse Square neighborhood, called 911, saying the men refused to buy anything or leave. Nelson had asked to use the bathroom ahead of a planned meeting about a potential real estate deal with a third individual at the cafe. The video shows their acquaintance arriving part way through the arrest, pleading for their release and offering to move the meeting elsewhere, to which police responded it was too late.
@Starbucks The police were called because these men hadn’t ordered anything. They were waiting for a friend to show up, who did as they were taken out in handcuffs for doing nothing. All the other white ppl are wondering why it’s never happened to us when we do the same thing. pic.twitter.com/0U4Pzs55Ci
— Melissa DePino (@missydepino)
After spending hours in jail, the two men were released and no charges were filed.
The city settlement was confirmed by the men’s lawyer and Mayor Jim Kenney to the Associated Press. As for Starbucks’s part, the company said it had reached an agreement earlier this week with the men that will include a confidential financial settlement.
Since the arrest, the men have emphasized their hope for change after the incident. “We were there for a real reason, a real deal that we were working on,” Robinson told the AP in an April interview. “We put in a lot of time, energy, effort. … We were at a moment that could have a positive impact on a whole ladder of people, lives, families. So I was like, ‘No, you’re not stopping that right now.’”
Nelson said he worried for his safety. “Anytime I’m encountered by cops, I can honestly say it’s a thought that runs through my mind,” he told the AP. “You never know what’s going to happen.”
Police Commissioner Richard Ross, who is black, said in a Facebook post that arresting officers “did absolutely nothing wrong,” and said that Nelson and Robinson were disrespectful to officers. The video shows hesitation to initially go with officers, but little scuffle as patrons around the two raised concern for what was happening.
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson came to Philadelphia to personally apologize. He also announced that 8,000 Starbucks stores would close May 29 for training on racial bias. Robinson and Nelson will have an opportunity to provide input to former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder, who is consulting on of company’s diversity and equity efforts. Starbucks has offered to pay for Robinson and Nelson to complete their undergraduate degrees through the Starbucks College Achievement Plan at Arizona State University but it was unclear if the men would use the program.
“I want to thank Donte and Rashon for their willingness to reconcile,” Johnson said in a release Wednesday. “I welcome the opportunity to begin a relationship with them to share learnings and experiences. And Starbucks will continue to take actions that stem from this incident to repair and reaffirm our values and vision for the kind of company we want to be.”