Days after Starbucks found itself the center of controversy after two black men were arrested at one of its Philadelphia stores, another top executive is expressing regret while a march is scheduled to take place Thursday in Center City.
Howard Schultz, the Seattle-based coffee chain's executive chairman, appeared on CBS This Morning Wednesday to discuss what the company plans to do after last week's incident, in which a video of the two men being removed in handcuffs for sitting in the store without making a purchase spread across the internet. Many are vowing to boycott Starbucks, while the company announced Tuesday that it would shut down for an afternoon next month while its employees undergo racial-bias training.
Schultz told co-host Gayle King that he was "embarrassed, ashamed" and said that the training marks just "the beginning" of what Starbucks plans to do.
Bloomberg estimated that the May 29 shutdown would cost the company $16.7 million, but Schultz said he wasn't thinking about the loss.
"I've always viewed this and things like this as not an expense but an investment in our people, in our company and we're better than this and I think people expect us to be at a higher level than many other companies and I understand that."
CEO Kevin Johnson, who issued his own apology on TV earlier this week and called the situation "reprehensible" in an interview with the Inquirer and Daily News, has been in damage-control mode, meeting with government and community leaders in Philadelphia, including Mayor Kenney and District Attorney Larry Krasner. He also apologized to the two men.
Members of POWER, an interfaith group, also met with Johnson and Schultz after helping to lead Monday's protest at the 18th and Spruce Streets location where the incident occurred, according to a statement from the group. POWER has sent a list of demands to the company as well as to Krasner. The demands to Starbucks include paying employees $15 an hour and playing a larger role in its communities, while the group wants all Philadelphia police officers to be required to wear body cameras in the next year.
The group is also requesting to meet with Commissioner Richard Ross, who stressed over the weekend that the officers involved in the arrest acted appropriately.
In response, POWER is organizing a march to be held Thursday, starting at 5 p.m. at police headquarters at Seventh and Race Streets and ending with a rally at City Hall at 5:45 p.m.
"Both Starbucks and Philadelphia's Mayor have issued remorseful apologies; however, the Police Commissioner is defending the officers who made the controversial arrests," the group said in a statement. "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."