A viral video of two men being arrested in a Starbucks has raised questions about police procedure and created a firestorm of debate online.
Footage of the startling incident was shared on Twitter by writer Melissa DePino. The video of the event, which reportedly took place on Thursday inside a Philadelphia Starbucks, has been viewed almost two million times (as of this writing) since it was uploaded. DePino wrote in her tweet that “The police were called because these men hadn’t ordered anything.”
@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 clips show the two black men being removed from the restaurant as another man is seen talking to a police officer, telling him the situation is “ridiculous.”
The officer says, “We got called. We didn’t just come out here.”
But the man doesn’t back off, asking the officers, “What did they get called for? Because they were two black guys sitting waiting to meet me? What did they do? What did they do? Tell me what they did.”
You can hear a woman saying, “They didn’t do anything, I saw the entire thing,”
DePino claimed on Twitter that a Starbucks employee phoned police. A debate about the cause of the arrest started almost instantly, with DePino tweeting people have assumed there “must be something more to this story.”
Ever since I posted this, I’ve had white strangers AND friends say “there must be something more to this story.” That assumption is a big part of the problem. It does happen. All the time. Just not to you and me. Believe it and speak up.
— Melissa DePino (@missydepino) April 13, 2018
Some wrote exactly that.
There has to be more to the story. I promise you.
— Soheezy (@Sohezy) April 12, 2018
Not going to judge this one too quickly would like to know the full story but this is still wrong if they werent doing anything.
— Benny (@BennyIsALad) April 12, 2018
Others pointed out that witnesses said the two men were minding their own business.
There are two people in the video who watched the entire thing happen who have clearly stated these two men were not doing anything.
— Leigh Shulman (@TheLeighShulman) April 14, 2018
Let’s not jump the gun! Not gonna judge yet! The they had to be doing something wrong. Same thing as just color film. Face it. America just hates black ppl. pic.twitter.com/gVcFxkLQA6
— Bumpy Johnson (@UnplugNeo) April 14, 2018
The two men were released early on Friday morning, reportedly with the help of a local attorney, who tweeted that “The video speaks for itself.”
The video speaks for itself. What took place at the 18th and Spruce #Philly @Starbucks was reprehensible. Two young black men, who were simply waiting to be joined by a friend, were blatantly discriminated against based on their race. Not only is this inexcusable, it’s illegal.
— Lauren A. Wimmer (@LAWimmerESQ) April 14, 2018
The Philadelphia police department said in its own tweet that it’s reviewing the incident.
We are aware of an incident that occurred on 4-12-18 at the Starbucks Café at 18th and Spruce. The entire incident, including the actions of the responding officers, is under internal investigation. Once we gather all the facts, we will comment further.
— Philadelphia Police (@PhillyPolice) April 14, 2018
Starbucks told Yahoo Lifestyle, “We strive to create a culture in our stores where everyone is welcome, and where everyone belongs. We believe in treating each other with dignity and respect, and will thoroughly investigate this incident.”
Updated April 14, 4:00pm:
The Associated Press reports that Philadelphia’s police commissioner is defending his officers’ decision to arrest the two men in Starbucks.
Commissioner Richard Ross, who is black, said police asked the men to leave three times but they refused. They were arrested and released. Ross said his officers “did absolutely nothing wrong.”
There was no mention of the white man in the video who said he was meeting with the men. He called the arrest “ridiculous” on video.
Starbucks tweeted an additional message, further apologizing for the incident.
We apologize to the two individuals and our customers for what took place at our Philadelphia store on Thursday. pic.twitter.com/suUsytXHks
— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) April 14, 2018
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle: