The coffee shop soundtrack is usually a reliable mix of inoffensive indie rock, porcelain clinking on countertops, and the caffeinated chitter chat of customers.
But over the weekend and continuing on Monday, the playlist at the Starbucks in Philadelphia has been dominated by protest songs, angry chants, and bullhorn-blasted denunciations.
The anger stems from an incident Thursday afternoon, where two black men quietly waiting for a third business associate at the shop were asked to leave. They refused, and the store manager responded by calling the cops, who then arrested the men as the white man they were waiting for arrived. The CEO, Kevin Johnson, flew to Philadelphia, promising to personally apologize to the two arrested men, and called their arrest“reprehensible.”
Starbucks initially refused to point blame at the unnamed manager, but has since thenannouncedthat she was leaving the store, in what Starbucks called a “mutual decision.”
According to Rebecca DeVine, a principal at Maven Communications, the company’s initial response was too slow and generic.
But, since that initial stumble, Johnson has made all the right moves, said Devine.
“I thinkwhat’spretty admirable is that he’s decided to take full ownership ofproblemand assume full responsibility,” Devine said. “And not just saying this is one person’s problem, and that doesn’t represent us, but saying maybe we need to look at all policies and issues.”
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