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If there are two things I know, it’s Starbucks and the struggle to find public restrooms in a big city. You may have heard about the two men, as yet unidentified, who were arrested in a Philadelphia Starbucks this week for what is being deemed “resistant loitering.” When the two men, who I shouldn’t have to tell you, are Black, walked into the Starbucks, they asked to use the bathroom. They were denied and told that they had to make a purchase.

When they told a barista that they were there for a business meeting and sat down anyway, someone determined the men were a threat and called the police. In a video of the arrest, shot by a patron who then put it online, you hear a woman say ‘I saw the whole thing and they didn’t do anything.’ In another video, the man who they were scheduled to meet with, indignantly questions the arresting officers, which on the tape looks to be about six or more, about the reason for the arrest.


Although it looks like the incident took place in the afternoon, the man were detained into the wee hours but released without any charges.

I know that particular Starbucks. When I was completing my B.A. in 2015, I used that location as my study hall. It had been renovated, along with several other Starbucks in Philadelphia to be meeting and hangout friendly, with  two wide tables, and comfy leather chairs  with outlets for freelancers, telecommuters and students to collaborate.

The 18th and Spruce location is smack dab in the middle of Rittenhouse Square, the poshest zip code in Center City, bordered by Rittenhouse Park and two of the city’s most high-end restaurants.

That, and the intersection of gentrifying and rapidly changing Philadelphia is what these two young brothers walked into that day. Downtown Center City is currently a perennial construction zone. Meds and eds, or medical and education facilities and the tech industry, are turning a city that has, since its inception, been a home for many solidly middle-class an affluent Black people, into a haven for hipsters and carpetbaggers escaping New York’s exorbitant housing costs.

While many African-Americans work, eat and sometimes play downtown, the vast majority of African-Americans in Philadelphia live in the gentrifying neighborhoods in the Northwest, West, South and North segments of the city. African-Americans do have a history of accomplishment in Philadelphia, but there is also a permanent underclass victimized by a decaying public school system, pockets of abject poverty and a persistently high rate of gun violence.

Rittenhouse Square remains a wealthy, white enclave. Just down the street, the patrons of Barclays Fine Dining or Parc and Rouge, pull up Maseratis and Bentleys to sit outside drinking fine wines and eating high-end foods on sunny days. Many are blissfully unaware of the problems Black men face in America, as those two demographics rarely interact with each other.

It’s not that it’s a rarity in Philadelphia to see two casually dressed brothers having a business meeting, it’s that if a conflict arises and they are not obsequious and obedient, there’s a chance that someone will find them suspicious. Consider that this incident took place just because the men asked to use a public restroom, a frustratingly challenging task in certain cities (Hi, NYC). Starbucks has been one of those places where bathrooms are clean, accessible and plentiful.

But in recent months, Starbucks locations have changed over to a bathroom code system that is sometimes only available with a purchase receipt. This is because, according to a Philadelphia-based employee familiar with company policy, a purchase to use the bathroom has long been a requirement. It just has not been enforced.

It’s a requirement meant to solve the persistent problem of homeless people and addicts who use public restrooms to wash and/or do drugs, an issue reflected in customer feedback to Starbucks. This employee has had to call police when an addict OD’ed in a Starbucks bathroom. The employee says that Starbucks acted on that feedback by changing the system of bathroom access, something that forces baristas to make snap decisions on who can and who can’t get an access code.


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55 thoughts on “How Did A Starbucks Visit Go So Wrong? Here’s Why

  1. kalib twali on said:

    lol what a fuckin joke. 2 idiots loitered & never once simply MADE IT A POINT TO EVEN TELL THE MANAGER “hey we’re going to buy something”, yet instead simply just ignored her and sat back down. that is called BREAKING THE LAW/LOITERING! pretty dam cut & dry. has nothing to do with race. they were detained/arrested for BREAKING THE LAW plain & simple. i’m half black half mexican so don’t come at me with no race/white bullshit – all they had to do was simply MAKE THE MANAGER/EMPLOYEE AWARE that they planned on purchasing an item, or simply just have purchased one immediately after attempting to use the restroom. It’s all a bunch of bullshit. They actually SHOULD have been issued a ticket for loitering & have a fuckin court appearance.

  2. Markus on said:

    Stores have policies and when you are a customer you are subject to them. If I leave Walmart without a receipt they have the right to detain me. Many stores have policies if you don’t purchase something they have the right to refuse service to you even small gas stations let alone Starbucks. These gentleman were asked to leave after they didn’t purchase anything and they refused. At this point Starbucks have the right to ask them to leave. And any rational person would have just bought a coffee or left at that point but no these guys decided to take it personally and make an issue out of it. Then even after the cops came and ask them politely to leave they refused. This is not an example of discrimination or racism but simply to people who refuse to follow the rules and thought they didn’t have to because they were black. That’s all it is folks

  3. Eddie on said:

    All of this is VERY familiar !!! Remember the lunch counter sit in back in the 60’s…we haven’t come as far we thought we did …Obama is gone ..America is back to normal!!!! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN !!! remember that slogan ? it wasn’t just a slogan it was a movement !!! WAKE UP BLACK PEOPLE !!! but next week we will back back in Starbucks and all will get back to normal !! did yall notice how many so called liberal celebrities have come out against Starbucks ? NONE !!

  4. This ex white cop would have been locked up with these citizens, because I would have stood up for what is right. Not all whites are like some. I have afro american in my extended family. Bet your ass I would have stood up for these fellow citizens. Do not judge a book by it’s cover.

  5. hit their racists ass in the pocket!!! the ceo of starbucks knows what a PR nightmare this is!! that’s why he fired the dumb ass manager! BUT I WOULD MAKE IT KNOWN AND SUE THE SHIT OUT OF THEM, JUST TO MAKE AN EXAMPLE OF THE RACISM THAT STILL EXITS TODAY! SAD SAD SAD!!!

    • African American Woman on said:

      As unfortunate as this mess it, there’s no grounds to sue…a person can ask you to leave private property and if you don’t, they can call the cops and have you detained. Bsides, they won’t even need to sue…Starbucks undoubtedly, will pay them off nicely!

  6. Ted Gravely on said:

    We will always have idiots defending anything white. Some of you people crave white acceptance, so let me help you. It was on film. The white people (-the police) in the video called it on the spot. One of the white female was on tv and reiterate her point. If that ain’t enough, the CEO of Starbucks without equivocation issued and immediate apology and is trying to meet with the two men. Since you crave white skin, that should help you. Now in my opinion, the police wasn’t at fault, but they could have used discretion. This is how situations with immature people get escalated. They truly didn’t do anything and now you want to embarrass them by doing the perp walk, fingerprinted, and mug shot. Thankfully, there was video and guess what, white witnesses.

  7. Mac Daddy on said:

    Unfortunately we are the root cause. Hear me out…These policies are in place, especially in large cities, to keep the homeless baggy pants from showering in the establishment bathrooms. If you hang out at a place like Starbucks, you buy something. It ain’t your fucking living room

      • Passing Through!! on said:

        He’s a racist pretending to be black, in another post he stated that blacks have the lowest IQ then he post on other threads talking “WE”. He’s a trump supporting white racist.

    • Kipsog on said:

      There ya go! But the sit already hit the fan.Went into a McD’s this morning and bought something as I ALWAYS DID before I sit down with my computer for a few hours and use the internet. But TODAY-new white manager cut the TV AND the Internet off! Now its clear [weather-wise]here in NJ but this is ‘par for the course’-cause any news like the last few days and these people WILL ACT UP. Oh Yes! Pay when u go in these places!

  8. I’ve only patronized Starbucks once the coffee was terrible I poured it out. The pigskins working there were not friendly. They can keep that piss they sell as coffee.

  9. CiscoKid on said:

    Guess what? White people have also been removed from Starbucks cafes by police, and have been denied use of the bathrooms. Why were there no protests??? Starbucks should shut down every location where there is a large black population.

      • CiscoKid on said:

        What an intelligent, cogent, and persuasive comment! Did you think of that all by yourself?

      • Crisco kid it really does not matter what you racists say. The CEO will be meeting with the guys and apologizing…and who knows what else. By the way in the article other white people were recorded saying they had done the same thing as these two black guys and they were never asked to leave. Also maybe if they were given a chance they would have ordered something. You can defend the racist manager all you want to but the CEO will take care of the black guys because he knows the situation was wrong.

  10. Janessa Dillon on said:

    If Starbuck’s did in fact recently change it’s policy or if they did in fact recently start enforcing an existing policy, then the policy should be posted where it is in full view so that patrons or any one else entering the cafe to just use the restroom can see the policy Then these two young men would have know that without a receipt or purchase that they could not use the restroom. STILL…I believe it’s all BS and they were discriminated against and publically humiliated. Rest assured, you will still witness people coming into Starbuck’s and heading to the bathroom without making a purchase beforehand. Especially if the lines are long and someone has “to go”, they’re going “to go”. Unless perhaps…they are a person of color.

    • African American Woman on said:

      For all you posters blaiming the cops, your anger is misguided…although what happened to these men is unbelievable and outrageous, the cops were only doing their job. The cops even said they didn’t want to arrest the men. However, when someone asks you to leave private property and you don’t leave, no matter what the reason, you are trespassing, which is a crime. The onus is with Starbucks and the idiot manager.

      • African American Woman on said:

        And to the point I was trying to make earlier, this Starbucks as the one on Chestnut St. and Market St. do have signs about bathroom use, just like most every other business downtown…however, I have run into this Starbucks at least twice to use the bathroom and was never asked anything; just given the code. I don’t even like Starbucks coffee! Lol

  11. J. A-M on said:

    Look people just respect policies and go about your business. We black people think we are entitled and do not have to obey rules and policies.

    • They did adhere to the policy. After being denied the use of the restroom, they returned to the table to wait for their potential business partner…….something that tons of people do in Starbucks on a daily basis. No, this was just a white chick that felt she knew how to handle “these ni##a men! I doubt that the police would have been called if the individuals had been even Black women.

  12. Annie B on said:

    WOW! Are you kidding me? I guess being black in America is a crime. This is more than discrimination, this is racism. WOW WOW WOW WOW! OMG! What is really going on in America? These young men should sue Starbucks. An incident like this accord in Jersey City, where two black officers approach a white guy. I think they were in Dunkin Donuts, I am not sure, but they were in a fast food restaurant and the white guy was getting loud and the police were called and those two black police officers were suspended because they felt that the officers were violating the guy rights. They claimed the two officers were out of line. Ain’t that something, if the shoe was on the other side, like what we are seeing now it would be a different story.

  13. Passing Through!! on said:

    How did these men end up getting arrested? Did the police not ask the proper questions or did they only hear BLACK MALES when the dummy called 911. Had they did their job properly no arrest should have been made. I believe police have the lowest IQ job on the planet. If you arrive to a scene and see these 2 men are just sitting peacefully in a public place not causing a problem, what would prompt you to place them under arrest. No common damn sense just REACT. This is exactly how people get killed.

  14. African American Woman on said:

    Mac Daddy, gentrification has nothing to do with how these men were treated. The area, Rittenhouse Square, where this happened has always been majority rich and white. This, in my opinion, is a clear case of discrimination and racism. I tried to explain and contrast my appearance to some of these buffoons on this site, but they have so much hate towards certain black people that they couldn’t even decipher what I was trying to say.

    • Damn African American Woman! All this hate just because you think enough of yourself to appreciate your God given gifts. Now see, you would be getting all kinds of love and marriage proposals if you had described yourself as a beautiful black, dark eyed, dreaded up sista with a ring through your nose. A gross exaggeration, but you get my point. LOL!!!

      • African American Woman on said:

        Bwahahaaaaaaaaa!!!! Exactly! And don’t forget ashy…the worse part is that none of them even got the message I was trying to get across! Just plain crazy!

  15. Mac Daddy on said:

    I don’t think anyone here can give a justification as to why gentrification is bad. If we took care of our shyt in the first place, it wouldn’t happen. This is on us Peeps

    • What you need to know is that gentrification is another systematic demise of the Black community. Communities are intentionally blighted; the properties are sat on until the plans that were developed more than 10-15 years prior are moved upon. Those that have sat on the vacant, boarded up buildings are now in a position to sale for a massive profit to the developers. Is it a bad thing….not necessarily, however, the way it is done is.

    • No the CEO of Starbucks said this one is on him and he will take care of it. That is what he said!!! So you see it really does not matter what you racists people say. Just stop stalking black people trying to cause trouble.

  16. Diane on said:

    It shouldn’t matter if you’re eyes are purple, you’re complexion is green and you think you’re gorgeous as the day is long….you came in this world a human being and that’s the point that we should all see….we are human beings with feelings. We were created by God and should be treated with respect and give respect and above all….show love ❤️

    • African American Woman on said:


      • It won’t. And neither will the name calling. Who did you pick that up from? Have you ever heard of house and field? That exactly how you sound. And who with any humility and class would say that they are pretty. Your comment was nothing but self-interest.

      • African American Woman on said:

        Being black, please stop being dumb…do you understand the meaning of compare and contrast? Apparently not…so, if I said I was ugly, would that make you feel better about yourself? How another person describes themselves doesn’t bother me…you know why? Because I’m comfortable with me and I love who I am…and buffoon is in the dictionary…not very hard to find.

      • It’s too bad that you don’t realize how ignorant and self-serving your statement is. That’s why you’re so angry and the name calling. And who said that buffoon wasn’t in the dictionary, so is baboon. If course it wouldn’t bother you, because you’re light skinned, green eyes, and oh so pretty.

  17. Diane on said:

    I so agree with Americanize. It’s so very sad that people especially Black People are stereotyped and victimized in this world.

  18. Kipsog on said:

    Time to wake up Black America! Black men are the most hated and despised people in America.
    This is a teaching moment for many. My brother was stopped on Sat and given a ‘warning’ and the officer couldn’t tell him for what. Now my brother is a councilman in a nearby city. And I mention this because I can guarantee you he’s not gonna act up. Police said he thought he was using his cell phone. We need an answer for these people on these police [cleanup] that so readily will kill or arrest black men. Weather it’s legislation or review boards. We need something or this will continue until the end of time. This country does embrace the paradigm of ‘checks and balances’ does it not?
    We do not have this with police [cleanup people] in America.

  19. African American Woman on said:

    You buffoon…My point was to contrast the my experience with these mens’ experience…I was recently at this Starbucks and used the bathroom without any questions…Appearances do matter as they trigger bias and predjudices in people…My description of myself bothers you because you have some internal self-hate issues…I can only relate to situations that I’ve been in and I’m trying to see things from the POV of these men. I can only imagine the humiliation they must have felt, not to mention the sheer disappointment of humanity at that moment. I’ve gone into this Starbucks, asked for the bathroom code and not an eye was blinked. I wonder if I had a different look and darker skin, would I have been denied??? I don’t know…I have to wonder if my appearance gives me (and others like me) an advantage…Calm down and don’t take everything personal because everything ain’t about you.

  20. Carla Davis on said:

    I’m a big starbuck fan but I will have to let them go.I’m so sick of people profiling and treating us badly. A white lady ran in to my car while I was in starbucks in a high class neighborhood and damaged my Mercedes over $1,000 AND I had to pay the deductible for a $ 4 cup of tea cost me $500. She drove off like a mad criminal!!!

  21. If the restaurant has a policy of not allowing anyone to use the restroom without buying anything, so be it. But why call the police because the gentlemen decided to wait for their business partner? It’s not like they tried to force their way into the damned restroom. The employee needs to be fired for being a dumb as a hammer. Anyone that stupid can’t be trusted with preparing something that people consume internally.

    • vdabney722 on said:

      Get Out. Nobody’s “eating” anything. I think just about everybody here agrees that what happened was wrong.

    • Butter Pecan on said:

      Yeah, he’s actually right. You have the race pimps going after a hard left Seattle Coffee company. Thus, Liberals eating their own.

    • Sooooo why don’t you go eat some KKK meat and stop stalking black people and trying to cause trouble. Give it up because it is not working.

  22. America Black on said:

    This is a cases of profiling and bad customer service partly caused by gentrification. Why should a person have to hold his/her urine just to order first. Often I have seen persons go into Starbucks and use their device , ordering nothing. This is a problem in many places including a McDonald’s in my city
    We need the NAACP to take the issue of Black communies being put on the auction block. No other race faces this issue for as long as Black people have. America give us our lands!!!!

  23. Sandra Dawkins on said:

    I will not be giving Starbucks any of my hard earned green💰💰!! Everdently they have a Problem with black and white also,let’s watch this Business GO to Bankruptcy too!!

  24. African American Woman on said:

    This incident leaves me utterly clueless! I live near Philly and walked past this Starbucks and have many times before…I’ve hung out and used the restroom in this Starbucks several times…in fact, I parked my car one day and ran in to use it and was given the code without question…now, I’m a black woman, albeit, light skinned, green eyed, pretty and well-dressed…I’m going to assume my appearance has a lot to do with it as I never experience issues like this…I rarely scream racism as most scenarios involving black people have another side that usually are not racist. This, however, is purely racist and I, certainly, will not be patronizing this Starbucks again!

    • Clueless is correct, Ms Albeit, light-skinned, green eyed, pretty, and well-dressed. Are you really just going to assume it’s your appearance (wave hand dramatically). Since you never (clutch pearls) experience issues like this. Lucky you, but you are light and pretty to boot, jackpot!!! Thank you so much for informing us that there’s another side that usually are not racist. But, how would you know since you never experience those issue? Still tripping over skin color after all of these centuries. Pretty on the outside (?), but so ugly and ignorant on the inside. Sad

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