New Starbucks Policy After Controversial Philadelphia Arrests Spark New Safety Concerns

IMG_3723DK ONLINE: Starbucks has stepped back into the news with a new policy that allows people to enter a store and stay without making a purchase.

You may have heard about the recent change after a massive uproar and claims of racism when two African-American men had the police called on them as they waited for a white business associate who showed up only to see the men taken away in cuffs.

(Video post via Guardian News).

Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson said in interviews they were in a Center City (downtown) Philadelphia Starbucks for about two minutes before a white manager called the cops. One of the men also said they were not allowed to use the restroom without making a purchase.

In the fallout the manager was canned, major protests and boycotts took place, and the nation was focused in on what Philadelphia officials and Starbucks management would do about the situation. CEO Kevin Johnson came to meet the men in Philadelphia. They eventually reached a settlement.

Not long after the story broke I spoke with Melissa DePino, a witness who shared video of the incident. It would be viewed more than 11 million times.

Never again, Starbucks officials said as they enacted the new policy.

The coffee shop empire says people using the meeting spaces must follow a set of rules and “be considerate of others,” or they could be kicked out.

But the new regulations also bring up long-held concerns about homeless people and drug users congregating in the common areas along with restrooms.

“I can’t see how this will work in urban areas with large homeless/mentally ill populations… I just worry about how many employees will be put in danger (or get fired) until this happens,” wrote one person on a subreddit page, as Fox News reports.

Philadelphia in particular is home to an infamous series of “open air” drug spots in the Kensington section where addicts come from all over to get heroin, and other devastating substances.

Many businesses have had to turn away certain groups as homelessness in downtown Philadelphia seems to worsen by the year.

It’s hard to tell what the complete answer is but certainly no person should ever feel as though they are being targeted by a business because of their race, and have the police called for no reason at all.

Starbucks certainly underscored this with a bold change in rules. It will be up to stores in or near areas with rampant homelessness, mental illness and drug use to delicately ensure customers are treated with dignity while ensuring the safety of everyone. It’s hard to say what a better answer or approach would be.


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