Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson has apologized after two black men were handcuffed at a store in Philadelphia. The arrests were filmed by a woman in the Philadelphia Starbucks store on Thursday and sparked outrage when the footage was posted on social media.
“The circumstances surrounding the incident and the outcome in our store on Thursday were reprehensible, they were wrong,” Johnson told Good Morning America‘s Robin Roberts about on Monday. “And for that, I personally apologize to the two gentlemen who visited our store,” he added.
When asked why the two men had been arrested in the Philadelphia Starbucks store, Johnson said the store’s guidelines indicated a certain set of scenarios in which the police should be called. But, he added, in this scenario “it was completely inappropriate to engage the police.” He said that Starbucks would be providing more training for its store managers, particularly training against unconscious bias.
Johnson did not give a clear answer when asked whether disciplinary action would be taken against the employee involved in the Philadelphia Starbucks store. “I know it’s easy for me to say and point blame to one person in this incident [but] my responsibility is to look more broadly… to ensure this never happens again,” he said.
The Starbucks chief concluded the interview by telling Roberts that he wants to have a face-to-face with the two men, who have not been identified. He said he wanted to apologize to them in person “and show some compassion and empathy for the experience they went through.” Johnson added that he would like to invite them to join him in finding “a constructive way to solve this issue.”
The interview was the third time Johnson has publicly apologized for the company’s role in the Philadelphia Starbucks store incident. On Sunday, he told customers he “will fix this” via a video message on the official Starbucks website. “This is not who we are, and not who we are going to be,” he added.