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Starbucks & Philadelphia's Bitter Brew of (Police-Sanctioned) Pernicious Prejudice

Cops and coffee shop in hot water

Philadelphia law protects the “basic right to fair and equal treatment” in public accommodations according to a City Hall website page that states public accommodation includes “places where food and/or drinks are served”...like a Starbucks coffeehouse.

That City website posting notes that public accommodation discrimination occurs “when someone is offered less favorable service than others.”

A caffeinated example of someone receiving less favorable service than others is when a Starbucks manager denies bathroom use to a black man on the claim that a purchase is required for toilet access while allowing others bathroom use without making the required purchase.

Customers in that Starbucks at the time of the arrests of Nelson and Robinson said Hylton and her staff allowed other non-paying persons access to the bathroom.

The Philadelphia Police Department is reportedly examining the actions of the arresting officers.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross caused a ruckus when he initially declared his officers did nothing “wrong” in providing “a service” to Starbucks by removing persons who were trespassing.

Ross later walked-back his hasty support of arresting officers, contending he was not aware that Starbucks is widely known for its practice of allowing people to sit in its facilities with or without making purchases.

Statements from Commissioner Ross make no reference to why police had not utilized their own 911 data that detailed something was awry at that Starbucks, particularly the large number of alleged disturbances there where the targets of those 911 calls were routinely blacks.

Perhaps now ex-Starbucks manager Hylton did not know that her denial of bathroom access was illegal.

However, responding law enforcers should have known about Philadelphia’s laws on public accommodation.

Many cite this Starbucks incident as evidence of the daily discrimination endured by blacks and Latinos. That discrimination is blithely downplayed by Philadelphia’s City Hall and too many in Philadelphia’s corporate, civic and church sectors –- spheres where ethical leadership is sorely lacking.

Too many easily overlook the realities of racism as if it were mere steam evaporating from a cup of hot coffee.



story | by Dr. Radut