Monday, April 16, 2018

Black Lives Matter (We'll Just Keep Saying It)

Just to note, I don't have a "real" office.  So, when I meet people, I do so at coffee shops including Starbucks (I like their chai mix best).

Sometimes, I get there early and I use the restroom.

Sometimes, I wait until the other person gets there to order.

Sometimes, I stay there a couple of hours but only order one thing.

I have never been questioned about this practice by any Starbucks employee.

And, I have never been arrrested.

Those two guys who were humiliated by both Starbucks and the police now have a record.  Doesn't matter if the charges were dropped; I think you'd have to work to get it expunged.  (Don't tell me the police were just doing their jobs; they could have just asked them to leave and not cuffed and perp walked them out.)

As for Starbucks:

 After first promising to investigate what happened on Friday, Starbucks’ initial statement, issued a day later, didn’t go over very well. The company vaguely apologized “to the two individuals and our customers” over the incident and said it was “disappointed this led to an arrest” and would review its policies.

Then, after half a day of worsening backlash, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson offered a much stronger and more specific response. Johnson re-apologized to the two men, insisted that the company “stands firmly against discrimination or racial profiling,” and promised to conduct an investigation into the incident, make any necessary changes to the company’s policies, and share what they learned in a company-wide meeting.

According to Johnson, the “store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did.” That may be true, but if so, it’s not clear how the manager — or anyone even faintly aware of the numerous high-profile news stories about racial injustice, particularly at the hands of police, over the past several years — could have not anticipated that outcome. 

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ESPN’s Joel D. Anderson got one thread started on Twitter, explaining that he was struck by the resignation the two men in the Starbucks video seemed to show about their ordeal:



It got me thinking about the roots of my reluctance at going into any store/shop/bar/etc if I'm not planning on buying anything. I know it's annoyed people in the past. But I don't feel comfortable just hanging out because most places get immediately suspicious of black men

This is why black lives matter. 

14 comments:

Trish Millines Dziko said...

Thank you for posting this Melissa. I've been on a number of threads where the sentiment was "well the did trespass" or "they must have done something else", etc.

As you pointed out, there are so many folks who have no clue what happens to Black folks on a day to day basis. This right here is the 61 years of my life. When I was younger I thought if I had kids, they wouldn't have to deal with this stuff. Alas, I have four children and they are still dealing with this stuff. Makes me both sad and angry.

Our country was built on violence and racism. If we're going to change, we need to recognize that and stop perpetuating it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

And, more people - especially white people - have to ask questions. Not shout or fight but "officer, why are you doing this?"

Jet City mom said...

The video I saw, the other people in the Starbucks, were questioning police.
I haven’t read Starbucks response, but I will, and unless they are very transparent about whether this was policy or a rogue manager, there should be major backlash & boycott.
The shop apparently had plenty of seats, and considering that some may sit there all day nursing a cup of tea, it seems bizarre that police were called in this situation.

The store manager claims that he didn’t expect them to be arrested.
I call foul.
That is what police do, they arrest people.
Certainly they could be community mediators, but generally they end up arresting somebody, if not worse.
Why would you want potential customers arrested?
I want to see the managers apology on the national news.

Jet City mom said...

I thought it was pretty interesting that six cops showed up to arrest two men that were behaving peacefully.
When I found that Philadelphia has double the police force per capita than Seattle, it made more sense.

In Seattle, it is unusual
for police to investigate squatters or a motor vehicle accident.
http://www.governing.com/gov-data/safety-justice/police-officers-per-capita-rates-employment-for-city-departments.html

Jim "Eddie Haskel" Comey said...

My WHITE daughter and her WHITE friends were asked to leave a Seattle Starbucks and even worst they were ask to allow the manager to look in their backpacks. The girls allowed the manager to look and then left. They did not argue, they just left.

I called the store and the manager and she said they were having a problem with kids and shoplifting. They had a sign stating "No backpacks". You see signs reading "No backpacks" in 100s of stores. If the girls would not have left the manager was within her rights to call the police. If they would have had stolen merchandise in one of the backpacks it would have been worst.

The Starbucks manager did not call the police because the girls left, was it fair I don't know, but they have not returned to the Starbucks. Don't like how a company runs their store then don't shop there.

Anonymous said...

Starbucks is not a charity. Starbucks is not your office. Starbucks is a business. All those two men needed to do was make a purchase and this whole event would not have happened. I doubt the manager called the police because they are black. The two men chose to escalate the situation which included using vulgarity and threats. When the police appeared they refused to obey instructions. Look at the reports of the incident and you will see what really happened. Black had nothing to do with it. I wouldn't doubt it was a setup to put BLM back in the spotlight.

Geez

Hook line and sinker said...

Hook line and sinker says...

Everyone in this little story is culpable. First, the 2 black guys asked to use the restroom but hadn't purchased anything, so were denied the rest room. Fair enough. However, when it was evident the two guys had no intention of buying anything, the store manager asks them to leave...a fair request and a legal one as well. The two black guys refuse to leave. Now they are guilty of trespass. The police are called and hear both sides. They then ask the two black guys to leave due to the store manager's accusation of trespass (which is technically correct and cannot be refuted). Again the two black guys refuse the police requests...and refuse 2 more times after that. This leaves the police with no recourse but to arrest the black guys for trespass and take them to jail. Thats how this works, folks. Refuse lawful requests in a place of business and the police will show up. Refuse the same requests from police and you get arrested. The black guys could have bought a cup of coffee and their trespass status would have instantly changed to "patron" status. Starbucks, or any store, has no obligation to keep their doors open for just anyone to walk in with no intention of purchase, although it's good business to encourage entry in the hopes that corporate marketing can actually entice a sale. On the other hand, the store manager could have just let this whole thing slide, but chose to be a dick about it. The bottom line is that we all need to go along to get along. If a store manager asks you to leave, be polite and get the heck out. If a cop asks you to do something, either comply or expect to get arrested. Pretty simple concept really.

The blogger of this site swallowed the hook, line and fishing boat on this one.

Jan said...

Geez -- if the BLM statement at the end of your post was not based on some credible (i.e., reported by a regular news reporting agency, with traditional journalistic standards) facts, it strikes me as nothing short of a smear. Do you have any basis for your insinuation that this may well have been just a BLM-concocted stunt?

Hook -- many of us have been refused restroom access in places where we are not patrons. It happens in downtown Seattle all the time, to all sorts of folks. But my understanding is that the two men were waiting for the arrival of a third person with whom they intended to meet. In a coffee shop with lots of empty tables, I have NEVER known of an instance where two white people (who were not causing any trouble (asking to use the bathroom does not count as asking for trouble unless you make a row about being turned down) were accused of trespassing by the store manager while doing nothing more than waiting to be joined by a third person. Do you honestly think that if the two people waiting were 50-ish white women (dressed as nicely, but not more so, than those two men), the store manager would have accused them of trespassing and called the cops? I guess we can never know for sure -- but I for one, don't think so -- and the Starbuck's CEO's apology and offer to meet with the two men tends to support my conclusion, I think rather than yours.

Also -- I don't know about the Starbucks around you, but the ones I frequent serve as "offices" for any number of people with laptops -- something that my area Starbucks have plainly tolerated, if not actually encouraged.

Anonymous said...

Jan sorry but SB is simply doing damage control. Its not SB policy to allow people to just use their stores without purchasing something. I know this as a fact. Cant the brothers afford a cup of coffee? $3 would have saved them from being arrested. Talk about a couple of men making poor choices.

Whatever

Anonymous said...

I you don't like Starbucks then there are plenty of other coffee shops, don't let the door hit you as some say.

Starbucks did nothing wrong, are you claiming Starbucks must allow non paying customers to take up tables? if so then you are mistaken. The problem is two black men had an attitude or a chip on their shoulders and were not smart enough or educated enough to know they must purchase a product to use the facilities. Starbucks has been enforcing this policy against street people for 6 years. Just because the two men are black doesn't mean the rules don't apply to them.

The police did nothing wrong, are claiming blacks do not have to follow police request? if so you are mistaken.

I don't care what color your skin is if you mouth off to police or refuse to follow their directions you will be arrested.

Case closed

Trish Millines Dziko said...

I can't help but laugh at all the whitesplaining. I guess you think the 14 year old black kid deserved to get shot at for knocking on a door to ask for directions too.

Must be nice to not have to deal with racist BS every day. Wish my kids had that luxury.

Anonymous said...

No one knocks on a door for directions. What century are you from? They do knock on your door to see if you are home and if not break-in. Remember?

--Buckwheat

Trish Millines Dziko said...

Oh you're so clever. Whatever.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Geez, you said:

"The two men chose to escalate the situation which included using vulgarity and threats."

This was reported where? It certainly isn't on the videotaped nor did the police say this happened.

Hook, line and sinker, what did I fall for? Nothing. In fact, I said I've done the same thing they've done (and seen others as well) but nothing happened to me. Multiple times.

The men in question WERE going to buy something; they were merely waiting until their friend arrived. The friend came and said this so there was no imaginary friend.

Buckwheat, a 14-year old can't ask for directions? If my cell phone had died or I was in an area without service, yes, I'd knock on a door - in broad daylight - and ask for help.

So I'll end this thread but the fact that Starbucks sees the error says a lot. It's interesting because KUOW had an interview with a columnist in Philly - a black woman - who was not happy with this incident but actually had some good things to say about Starbucks in general.

The manager and the police had discretion in the matter and that's really the issue.