Starbucks, scrambling to restore trust after the arrest of two black patrons at a cafe in Philadelphia, announced Tuesday that it's going to close more than half its stores in the USA next month for an afternoon of bias training. "Commissioner Ross has said the officers did 'absolutely nothing wrong.' POWER and community leaders are gathering to demonstrate that racial discrimination is intolerable and that Philadelphia Police must end racial bias and complicity with White supremacy".
"I'm embarrassed, ashamed. I think what occurred was reprehensible at every single level".
The two men were waiting for a friend when the manager called the police.
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Starbucks had closed its stores before, in 2008, when the chief executive at the time Howard Schultz sought to re-educate employees in the art of espresso.
"There's no doubt in my mind that the reason that [police] were called was because they were African American", Schultz added. "That's not who Starbucks is".
Activists are saying the store's manager discriminated against the men because they were black, but the coffee chain promotes itself as a neighborhood hangout where all are welcome.
The outcry began last Thursday, when a bystander in a downtown Philly Starbucks recorded two black men being placed in handcuffs and escorted out of the cafe by six uniformed police officers. "And we're better than this", he added.
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Days after Starbucks apologised to the Philadelphia men, mobile phone footage emerged of an apparent race-related incident in a Starbucks store in California. Video shows several police talking quietly with two black men seated at a table.
Mr Schultz told CBS it was possible that the Philadelphia incident was not "isolated" and the company would continue to examine its policies.
"Race is a very hard subject to discuss", he added.
Shultz said the store closing was "most powerful in its symbolism" and "a galvanizing event" in his 2011 book Onward: How Starbucks Fought For Its Life, according to aBusiness Insider excerpt.
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But instead the hashtag #racetogether was hijacked on social media and the campaign became the subject of widespread criticism.