Starbucks to close 8000 United States cafés for an afternoon's racial bias training

Protesters demonstrate outside a Starbucks in Philadelphia on Sunday several days after police arrested two black men who were waiting inside the Center City coffee shop. The chain has announced it will close for an afternoon on May 29 for companywide

A company announcement said the instruction for the almost 175,000 employees at more than 8,000 Starbucks locations is "designed to address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination and ensure everyone inside a Starbucks store feels safe and welcome".

Starbucks announced on Tuesday that it would close 8,000 of its U.S. stores and ist corporate offices on May 29 for all employees to receive racial-bias education. And third, to reassure you that Starbucks stands firmly against discrimination or racial profiling. Starbucks did not say how many hours the stores would be shuttered on May 29, but the afternoon is the slowest time for Starbucks' business. An employee told them it was only for paying customers. "They are breaking a promise".

"@Starbucks in Philadelphia I have watched the video and do not see these to young men doing anything wrong...."

The stakes have been high for the coffee giant, and brand reputation experts said the company had a narrow window of time to tamp down public outrage. The company leaves safety and customer service protocol decisions up to store managers, said a company official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to freely describe internal discussions.

The Rev. Mark Tyler, pastor at Mother Bethel AME Church, said the reason for the quick and fierce backlash is this: "It demonstrates that if you're black, there's nobody that's safe".

Tennis icon Billie Jean King, whose organization, the Billie Jean King's Leadership Initiative, recently partnered with Starbucks to support "global gender pay equity", called the incident "deeply troubling". The company also touts the diversity of its workforce, saying minorities comprise more than 40 percent of its employees in the U.S.

Johnson apologized for the way they were treated, according to a company spokesperson who declined to disclose details of the meeting. One of those stores opened in Ferguson, Missouri, the scene of the 2014 protests that erupted following the police shooting of Michael Brown, one of several such killings that moved Schultz to launch the Race Together campaign.

In a statement, the Police Advisory Commission concurred: "It seems that the men who were ultimately arrested in this incident may not have been legally justified to be in Starbucks once they refused to make a purchase and did not leave when asked by both the store management and police".

"We'll work very hard to ensure that we evaluate our training", said Camille Hymes, a Starbucks regional vice president. The hashtag #BoycottStarbucks trended on Twitter. When they then sat in the store without ordering anything, the manager called the police, and the men were arrested for trespassing.

Mr Johnson apologised on behalf of the company and the conversation was continuing about how this "painful incident can become a vehicle for positive social change", the statement added.

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