When it comes to incidents like the last week’s arrest of two black men at a Center City Starbucks, Late Show host Stephen Colbert just wishes bystanders could record all the racism.
“That is a grievous racial injustice,” Colbert said on Thursday’s show, “and if you witness anything like this, for the love of god, don’t film it in portrait mode. Film it in landscape. You’re missing all the racism on the sides.”
This was Colbert’s first mention of the Starbucks incident. Previously, only the Daily Show‘s Trevor Noah had talked about it.
Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson were arrested at a Starbucks at 18th and Spruce Streets last Thursday after not making a purchase and refusing to leave the store. According to bystander Melissa DePino, who shared a now-viral video of the arrest, the two men were waiting to meet a friend at the coffee shop.
Holly Hylton, a former manager at the store, reportedly called police after two minutes of the Robinson and Nelson entering the Starbucks, saying in the recently released 911 call that there were “two gentlemen in my cafe that are refusing to make a purchase or leave.” The call was placed at 4:37 p.m., and Robinson and Nelson reportedly entered the store at 4:35 p.m.
“Hold it right there. Cafe? Come on, you’re a complimentary bathroom that sells cake pops,” Colbert said Thursday. “And this was some real fast-acting justice. ‘Hello, 911? I’d like to report 120 seconds of sitting while black.’”
Following the arrests, Mayor Jim Kenney issued a statement saying he was “heartbroken” by the the incident, which “appears to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018.” Police Commissioner Richard Ross also apologized to Robinson and Nelson after initially saying their arresting officers “didn’t do anything wrong.”
Starbucks’ management also apologized for the arrests. In an appearance on Good Morning America, CEO Kevin Johnson issued an apology, and chairman Howard Schultz told CBS This Morning that “nobody should be asked to leave Starbucks.”
“I don’t know. I can think of a few people I’d like to see kicked out,” Colbert said. “The guy watching War for the Planet of the Apes on his laptop without headphones. That art student who is clearly sketching you.”
Protests against Starbucks here in Philadelphia began on Sunday, with Blacks Lives Matter organizer Asa Khalif leading a protest at the Starbucks at 18th and Spruce where many demanded the manager who called police be fired. By Tuesday, Starbucks announced that it was close all of its US stores on the afternoon of May 29 for “racial-bias education” training.
“I just wonder what this training session is going to be like for black Starbucks employees,” Colbert said. “‘OK guys, let’s all settle down and listen while this nice white lady from HR tells us what racism is. It’s so sad. I did not know.’”
On Thursday, Robinson and Nelson appeared on Good Morning America, where they said that they hope the incident can serve as a “stepping stone” for social change.
“I want to make sure that…this situation doesn’t happen again,” Robinson said on GMA. “So what I want is for a young man or young men to not be traumatized by this and instead [be] motived, inspired.”
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert airs weeknights at 11:35 on CBS.