BOSTON (CBS) – Imagine this – you’ve arranged a business meeting with someone in a coffee shop in your neighborhood, and you get there a few minutes early. A waiter asks if you want to order and you say you’ll wait for the person you’re meeting with to arrive. Six minutes later, uniformed police officers arrive and arrest you, leading you out of the place in handcuffs. You find out later that the manager had called the cops just two minutes after you arrived. You would be outraged, right?
That’s exactly what happened to two African-American men in Philadelphia the other day in an incident caught on cell phone video and the next time you’re tempted to dismiss a person of color’s complaint about discriminatory treatment, you might want to keep this episode in mind.
To their credit, Starbucks has apologized and is taking action to see that this sequence of events doesn’t occur again.
Also apologizing – Philly’s police commissioner, who originally claimed his officers – who reportedly never even questioned the two men – did nothing wrong.
“The issue of race in this situation is not lost on me. The optics are not lost on me,” said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross.
And the definitive statement on this debacle comes from one of the arrested men.
“Help people understand that it’s not just a black people thing. This is a people thing. And that’s exactly what we want to see out of this and that’s true change,” Rashon Nelson told ABC’s Good Morning America.
If only the manager and the cops she called had been as thoughtful and gracious as he is.