T.I. has called on fans to boycott Starbucks following the arrest of two African-American men at a location in Philadelphia after an employee called the police to report that they were trespassing.
The men, who told officers that they were just waiting for a friend, were dragged out in handcuffs while other customers protested that they did nothing wrong. This sparked debate across the USA with many celebrities speaking out on the coffee chain's actions.
Starbucks has since apologized for the incident, but rapper T.I. is standing his ground, posting on Instagram, “I ain’t spending no more of my bread wit em. Urge y’all not to either.” This isn’t the rapper’s first time speaking out against racial discrimination. Earlier this year, he called for a boycott of Houston’s steakhouse in Atlanta for allegedly profiling black customers by refusing to seat a dinner party due to supposed “aggressive behavior.”
Philadelphia police commissioner Richard Ross defended Starbucks, alleging that the men were asked to leave three times for attempting to use the bathroom without ordering first. This account has been disputed by other patrons.
“As an African American male, I am very aware of implicit bias; we are committed to fair and unbiased policing,” Ross said. “If a business calls and they say that ‘Someone is here that I no longer wish to be in my business,’ [officers] now have a legal obligation to carry out their duties and they did just that.”
Actor Kevin Hart, meanwhile, thinks that the issue is not a reflection of the coffee chain but of this particular location. He tweeted, “Let's make one thing very clear...This is not a boycott @Starbucks situation...This is horrible management. The manager on duty was wrong. It's that simple...That's who needs to take responsibility for this wrong doing.”
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said he would meet with the two men who were arrested and called the employee’s actions reprehensible.
“It’s easy for me to point blame to one person in this incident. My responsibility is to look more broadly, just to ensure this never happens again. I’ve been very focused on understanding what guidelines and what training ever let this happen. What happened was wrong, and we will fix it.”
For now, coffee lovers are torn regarding where they'll get their beverage in the near future. One thing is for sure however, T.I. is not impressed at how Starbucks treated those to patrons in Philadelphia over the weekend.