After two black men were arrested while they waited for a friend to join them for coffee at a Philadelphia Starbucks, the company had plenty of critics to deal with across the country. And now, Rhode Island’s Joseph Trillo, a candidate for governor, has joined in.
But Trillo’s criticism, expressed in a statement Friday, targets Starbucks’ plans to provide racial-bias education to its employees.
Trillo, running as an independent, said Friday that Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson was bending to the will of “far-left Progressive insanity” when he announced that every Starbucks store would close on May 29 to accommodate the educational program.
“For the CEO of Starbucks to pander to far-left Progressive insanity by closing down for a day, only makes matters worse,” Trillo says in the statement. ” Mr. Johnson is not interested in racial-bias education, he’s interested in damage control. Grow a backbone, Mr. Johnson.”
Trillo said the men should have been arrested because they refused to leave the store when they were asked to leave.
“I am so sick of hearing people scream the word racism every time a minority gets arrested for something unlawful,” Trillo said. “Sorry folks, if you’re asked to leave a business’s premises, you leave. It’s not racism, it’s what happens when you break the law.”
While the two black men were arrested, prosecutors did not share Trillo’s opinion. The Philadelphia District Attorney’s office determined there wasn’t “sufficient evidence to charge [the men] with a crime,” according to a spokesman.
Meanwhile, Starbucks, in a Twitter statement, apologized, saying it was “disappointed this led to an arrest.”
Starbucks leaves customer service decisions to store managers and does not have a policy on asking members of the public to leave, according to a company official who was quoted by the Associated Press.
The chain’s stores are “community” hubs, where people often drop in to use the Wi-Fi or chat with friends without necessarily ordering anything.
Trillo suggests that Starbucks’ toleration of people who do not buy anything affects “every small business out there” by setting an expectation.
“If that’s not a recipe to destroy a small business, I can’t think of a better one,” says Trillo’s statement. “If Mr. Johnson has his way, every business in America would shake in its shoes before enforcing its right to run a decent establishment.”
— With reports from the Associated Press