Starbucks to close 8,000 US cafes for ‘racial bias’ training

Announcement comes after the arrest of two black men in Philadelphia store sparked protests and calls for a boycott on social media

US coffee shop chain Starbucks has been accused of racial profiling after a video of two black men being arrested at one of their Philadelphia stores went viral, the pair were reported to police for allegedly trespassing. Video: Melissa Depino

 

Starbucks is closing more than half of its domestic stores next month so employees can undergo racial-bias training, a response to the arrest of two black men at one of its cafes in Philadelphia.

The announcement comes after the arrests sparked protests and calls for a boycott on social media.

The coffee chain plans to shut its more than 8,000 company-owned stores during the afternoon of May 29th. In the US, about 59 per cent of its locations are Starbucks-owned. The rest are licensed locations.

Starbucks is facing an outcry following the Philadelphia incident, which involved a manager summoning police after the two men waited at a Starbucks table without ordering.

Chief executive Kevin Johnson apologised for the arrests, calling them a “reprehensible outcome”, and vowed to better train employees.

Mr Johnson had said he wanted to apologise to the two men face-to-face. The company and a lawyer for the two men confirmed they did meet, and Mr Johnson delivered the apology.

Starbucks also said the employee who called police no longer works at the store, but declined to give details.

The company will train nearly 175,000 employees across the country, Starbucks said.

The instructions also become part of the program for new hires.

“I’ve spent the last few days in Philadelphia with my leadership team listening to the community, learning what we did wrong and the steps we need to take to fix it,” Mr Johnson said in a statement. While this is not limited to Starbucks, we’re committed to being a part of the solution.” – AP