Starbucks Corp would close eight-thousand company-owned United States cafes for the afternoon on the 29th of May so that the one lac seventy-five thousand employees could undergo a racial tolerance training session in response to the protests and boycott calls after the arrest of two black men who were found waiting in a Philadelphia store.
The company in its announcement on Tuesday mentioned that it would provide the training materials to even the non-company employees at around six thousand licensed Starbucks cafes that would remain open in locations like airports and grocery stores.
This announcement followed the attempt of the world’s biggest coffee firm to cool tensions after the occurrence in Philadelphia last week which ignited accusations of racial profiling at the chain, which is the subject of a boycott campaign on social media.
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The controversy is one of the biggest tests of public relations so far for the new Starbucks Chief Executive—Kevin Johnson, who was already struggling to enhance the traffic of Starbucks from the competitor coffee sellers to fast-food chains and convenience stores.
Even if the threatened boycott may not even occur, the temporary closure of the 8,000 stores would definitely have an impact on sales. Starbucks has not yet specified the number of hours it would be shutting the stores on May 29.
Starbucks is among the most high-profile, classy and well-loved brands in the world.
The chief executive of Starbucks has apologized for the “reprehensible” arrests of the two men in Philadelphia on Thursday and has taken personal responsibility for the incident, as per a customer video that was shared extensively.
Philadelphia police on late Tuesday released the series of calls that led to the arrest of the two men.
The calls started with the Starbucks employee reporting that two gentlemen in the café are neither making a purchase nor leaving. The call after this one informed that some unidentified man are causing disturbance so backup and supervisor is needed.
The police commissioner of Philadelphia police defended the arrests saying that the officers had to take action as the employees at Starbucks informed them that a pair of men was trespassing.
Tiffany Dena Loftin—Director of the Youth and College Division at NAACP said that it is good that Starbucks is giving staff training on 29th May, But, police accountability should also be a focus, which as per Loftin is the actual problem.