Controversial Starbucks Arrest in Philadelphia - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

Police officers arrested two men in a Philadelphia Starbucks in mid-April in a move that some are saying boils down to race.

In a video that’s since gone viral, police are arresting two African-American men who were waiting for a friend to arrive. According to witnesses, the two men didn’t do anything – but a Starbucks barista called the police on them when they refused to leave. When the police arrived and the two men still refused to leave, police arrested them.

The original call to police alleged that the men were creating a disturbance and trespassing.

Onlookers say the two men didn’t do anything wrong.

“They did not raise their voices; they were not confrontational,” said the woman who took the video, Melissa DePino.

When the men’s friend – real estate investor Andrew Yaffe – arrived, he attempted to explain to police that the pair was simply waiting for him to get there.

“What did they get called for? Because there were two black guys sitting here, meeting me?” Yaffe asks on the video. “What did they do?”

The men were held for just under eight hours, according to NPR, when police discovered that Starbucks didn’t intend to press any charges against them.

Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney said, “I am heartbroken to see Philadelphia in the headlines for an incident that — at least based on what we know at this point — appears to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018. For many, Starbucks is not just a place to buy a cup of coffee, but a place to meet up with friends or family members, or to get some work done. Like all retail establishments in our city, Starbucks should be a place where everyone is treated the same, no matter the color of their skin.”

What Do You Think?

Did you watch this unfold and see the backlash on Twitter and other social media networks? Do you think that this is part of the larger racial discussion the U.S. needs to have, or is this something that was blown out of proportion thanks to social media? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share them on my Twitter feed or on Facebook.

Carlos Gamino