Two black men whose arrest at a Starbucks in Philadelphia has gone viral were waiting for a local Jewish businessman, Andrew Yaffe, who tried to stop their arrest.
Yaffe, who runs a real estate development firm, was meeting the men to discuss business investment opportunities. In the viral video, he arrives at the Starbucks and tells police that they were waiting for him.
“Why would they be asked to leave?” Yaffe says on the video. “Does anybody else think this is ridiculous? It’s absolute discrimination.”
A video of the arrest of the two men on Thursday went viral on social media, and led to national and international outrage. It was viewed more than 8 million times by Saturday.
In a statement, Starbuck’s CEO Kevin Johnson offered “our deepest apologies” for the “reprehensible” incident.
@Starbucks The police were called because these men hadn’t ordered anything. They were waiting for a friend to show up, who did as they were taken out in handcuffs for doing nothing. All the other white ppl are wondering why it’s never happened to us when we do the same thing. pic.twitter.com/0U4Pzs55Ci
— Melissa DePino (@missydepino) April 12, 2018
“The video shot by customers is very hard to watch and the actions in it are not representative of our Starbucks Mission and Values. Creating an environment that is both safe and welcoming for everyone is paramount for every store. Regretfully, our practices and training led to a bad outcome—the basis for the call to the Philadelphia police department was wrong. Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did,” Johnson said.
He also said that Starbucks “stands firmly against discrimination or racial profiling.”
The men were asked to leave after asking to use the bathroom before ordering anything. Police were called when the men did not leave.
The men were taken to a police station, where they were fingerprinted and photographed, their attorney Lauren Wimmer told The Washington Post on Saturday. They were released several hours later due to lack of evidence.
Yaffe is the founder and president of AY Industries, a Philadelphia-based real estate development, investment and management firm, and is active in the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, according to the Jewish Exponent.
The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.
We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.
Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.