SEATTLE – On May 29, Starbucks will close 8,000 company-owned U.S. stores for the afternoon when nearly 175,000 employees will undergo racial tolerance training in response to protests after the arrest of two black men in a Philadelphia cafe.
The coffee giant announced no timeline on how long the training will take that afternoon. The company did say in a statement, however, that “during that time, partners will go through a training program designed to address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination, and ensure everyone inside a Starbucks store feels safe and welcome.”
It will also provide training materials for additional employees at 6,000 licensed locations in grocery stores and airports.
The incident prompting all this happened Thursday, April 12. A Starbucks employee stated that “two gentlemen in my café are refusing to make a purchase or leave.” A secondary call reported that a “group of males” was “causing a disturbance.” At that point, Philadelphia police reported to the scene and proceeded to arrest two black men, who were later released without charges. According to Reuters, the “incident sparked accusations of racial profiling at the chain,” which prompted a boycott campaign on social media.
“It’s good that Starbucks is giving all staff race trainings on May 29. But let’s not lose sight of the real problem which is police accountability,” said Tiffany Dena Loftin, Director of the Youth and College Division at NAACP.