Starbuck Coffee Reaches a Settlement with Two Black Men Arrested in Philly Location

Turning a negative experience into a positive for the community, the two men settle with the city of Philadelphia for a symbolic $1 in exchange for a $200,000 youth program for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Following the April 12 arrest of two African-American men at a Starbucks downtown Philadelphia location which, as reported by The Scope Weekly,  resulted in much public outrage and a strong apology from Kevin Johnson, CEO of Starbucks, a non-disclose financial settlement has been reached this week.

The agreement was settled between the two men arrested Donte Robinson, Rashon Nelson, and Johnson during mediation talks before a retired federal judge in Philadelphia. Starbucks Coffee (NASDAQ: SBUX)  has also committed to shutting down the doors of its U.S. stores for a Day of Racial-Bias Education on May 29.Furthermore, the parties agreed to work to “develop specific actions and opportunities,” and the two men will give input to former US Attorney Eric Holder, who is working with Starbucks on its diversity efforts, the company said.

Johnson said in a company statement, “I want to thank Donte and Rashon for their willingness to reconcile. 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.”

Courtesy of Starbucks Coffee inc. Johnson speaking at Starbucks Annual Shareholders Meeting 2018.

Robinson and Nelson have become a lightning rod in what many perceives as a fight against unjust racial profiling, and bias issued a statement, “Jointly they said, “We appreciate the opportunity to have meaningful discussions with Kevin Johnson and the group around the table to address hard issues. We all recognize the importance of communication about differences and solutions, and that we will be measured by our action, not words.”

Robinson and Nelson who are real estates brokers were arrested on charges of loitering at the downtown location while waiting for Andrew Yaffe, a business partner to arrive. The arrest and conversations were captured on camera and show the arrival of Philadelphia real estate investor Yaffe on the premise while his two friends were taken out of the store in handcuff, questioning the police officers and calling the arrest ridiculous. Johnson has since called the unfolding of the event a “reprehensible outcome” and has promised an internal investigation and better training. The store manager who placed the 911 call no longer works at the City Center Starbucks location, but it is unclear whether she has been reassigned to another location.  “We can confirm the manager no longer works at that store,” a Starbucks representative said in a statement.

As part of the settlement between the coffee company and Robinson and Nelson, have been offered the opportunity to complete their undergraduate degrees through the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, which is usually only offered to qualifying Starbucks partners to earn their bachelor’s degree with full tuition coverage.

Two men arrested at Starbucks settle with the city for $200K youth program.

Nelson and Donte Robinson chose not to pursue a lawsuit against the city. Instead, they have accepted a symbolic payment of $1 each and have asked the city to fund $200,000 for a grant program for high school students aspiring to become entrepreneurs.“This was an incident that evoked a lot of pain in our city, pain that would’ve resurfaced over and over again in protracted litigation, which presents significant legal risks and high financial and emotional costs for everyone involved,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement.

Thursday morning on Good Morning America, Nelson told Good Morning America’s, Robin Roberts. “The most important thing is the foundation, the fact that we have a seat at the table to work on reforms, being included in the racial bias training, leading forward. And hopefully, other companies take what Starbucks is putting into perspective and follow.” Nearing the interview, Robinson asked Roberts if “she would take part in their work,” to which she replied that she would  “be honored. It’s a necessary discussion that must be done. Let’s not just make a moment but a movement.”

Cohen, Placitella, and Roth, the Philadelphia law firm representing Nelson and Robinson, did not immediately return a request for comment.


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