Coffee giant Starbucks will close 8,000 stores as well as its corporate office for an afternoon in order to provide “racial bias training” after outrage over a video showing two black men getting arrested in a Philadelphia store.
Nearly 175,000 employees will take part in the training scheduled for May 29, the company said Tuesday.
“Closing our stores for racial bias training is just one step in a journey that requires dedication from every level of our company and partnerships in our local communities,” CEO Kevin Johnson said in a statement.
Johnson specifically mentioned how he spent days in Philadelphia trying to understand what his company did wrong. Johnson personally apologized to the men after a female manager called the police on them due to one or both of them allegedly trying using the bathroom without purchasing anything.
The training will include input from former Attorney General Eric Holder as well as left-wing groups like Demos:
The curriculum will be developed with guidance from several national and local experts confronting racial bias, including Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative; Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund; Heather McGhee, president of Demos; former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder; and Jonathan Greenblatt, ceo of the Anti-Defamation League. Starbucks will involve these experts in monitoring and reviewing the effectiveness of the measures we undertake.
Johnson reportedly said that “what happened to those two gentlemen was wrong.”
“My responsibility is to look not only to that individual but look more broadly at the circumstances that set that up just to ensure that never happens again,” Johnson also said, according to The Washington Post.
The arrests sparked days of protests and even boycott threats:
Starbucks is facing protests and boycott threats after two black men were arrested for not making a purchase and refusing to leave the store. The coffee chain’s CEO traveled to Philadelphia to apologize to the men. @CBSMMiller reporting. https://t.co/eXShXpmCdq pic.twitter.com/1rOfRQdBqi
— CBS News (@CBSNews) April 16, 2018
STILL HAPPENING: A protest that moved inside the Starbucks at 18th and Spruce in #Philly just before 7:30 this morning is still going on, as officers watch. More here —> https://t.co/Px8b4cbKAB pic.twitter.com/bxYV3RYltT
— Matt Petrillo (@MattPetrillo) April 16, 2018
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) April 17, 2018
One protester’s sign reportedly asked whether the Starbucks fired the manager who called the police. The company, according to the Post, said the manager was no longer at that particular store.
Starbucks entered the news recently after a California judge said the coffee giant had to include a cancer warning label on its drinks. Starbucks has also faced controversy over its disposable cup design, and at the end of last year, some thought it used the cups to promote a “gay agenda.”