Two black men arrested in a Starbucks after sitting in the restaurant without ordering anything have settled with the city of Philadelphia for $1 each, as well as a promise from local officials to launch a $200,000 entrepreneurship program for high school students.
Captured on video, the arrests at Starbucks sparked nationwide protests, boycotts of the Seattle-based coffee chain, and conversations about racial bias.
“We thought long and hard about it and we feel like this is the best way to see that change that we want to see,” Donte Robinson told the Associated Press. Robinson was arrested along with Rashon Nelson as they waited for a third person, so they could discuss a business deal over drinks in the cafe.
While outrage churned around their arrests, the two men did not support efforts like the boycott. “We need a different type of action… not words,” Robinson said in an earlier interview with the AP. Though the proposal to launch an entrepreneurship program with the city is currently only a promise, it’s a potentially positive ending to a troubling turn of events.
Nelson told the AP that he considers the arrest an example of being at “the wrong place at the right time because of the outcome that can come out of it.”
Starbucks promptly apologized for the arrests and took an aggressive stance in responding to the incident. The manager who called the police on Robinson and Nelson has since been removed from that restaurant, and the company is closing more than 8,000 locations on May 29 so that its employees can undertake racial bias training. As a result of Starbucks’ quick, forceful response, the company does not appear to have lost any sales.
Starbucks announced a settlement with Nelson and Robinson Wednesday for a “confidential financial settlement.” Starbucks has also offered the men the opportunity to complete their undergraduate degrees through the company’s Starbucks College Achievement Plan, which lets employees get full tuition coverage through Arizona State University.
The city of Philadelphia, in addition to paying the men a symbolic $1 each, will also wipe the arrests from Robinson and Nelson’s records.