Two black men arrested for sitting at a Philadelphia Starbucks without ordering anything have reached an agreement with the city, which will pay them $1 each and set up a $200,000 program for young entrepreneurs at their request.
The announcements, coming just two weeks after the incident, spare the city and coffee chain a protracted spotlight on an incident that stoked national outrage and debate about race, a change in local police policies, and boycotts and protests against a brand that's become ubiquitous in cities around the world.
In their agreement with Philadelphia, Nelson and Robinson have released the city and its employees from "any and all claims," city spokesman Mike Dunn said.
The two men also asked the city to create a program for Philadelphia public high school students with aspirations of becoming entrepreneurs. The city has agreed to provide a $200,000 grant for that program, Dunn said. Nelson and Robinson will not receive any of that money, he said.
Mayor Kenney lauded the idea, saying pain from the incident would have resurfaced "over and over again" had litigation unfolded.
"Rather than spending time, money, and resources to engage in a potentially adversarial process, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson approached the city and invited us to partner with them in an attempt to make something positive come of this," Kenney said in a statement. "This agreement is the result of those conversations, and I look forward to seeing the fruits of this effort in the coming months and years."
Robinson told the Associated Press, "We thought long and hard about it, and we feel like this is the best way to see that change that we want to see."
The two men's Center City attorney, Stewart Cohen, did not return calls Wednesday seeking comment. On Thursday, the men appeared on Good Morning America, saying they wanted to turn the incident into something positive.
The arrests of Nelson and Robinson on April 12 sparked a nationwide outcry, days of protests in Philadelphia, and an apology from the city's police commissioner. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson called the arrests "reprehensible," and the coffee chain later announced it would be closing all its U.S. stores on the afternoon of May 29 to conduct training on racial bias.
Nelson and Robinson, 23-year-old entrepreneurs, were sitting in the Starbucks at 18th and Spruce Streets waiting for a business associate when the store manager called police. A video of the arrest went viral.