Sunday, April 15, 2018

Starbucks: Guilty of Racial Profiling or Unfairly Targeted?

First of all, I boycott Starbucks all the time, not because of their treatment of customers but because I won't drink their overpriced burnt coffee and nothing else there is worth forking out the cash at the ridiculous prices they charge.

But, if you are actually a regular patron of Starbucks, should you get all boycotty over the Philly incident?

::sigh::I am so tired of the over-the-top reactions to local issues which blow-up into national race crises demanding us all to enter the race war so provoked by the media and certain political groups. And, before I go on to profile the Starbucks incident, let me state for the record that, yes, of course, any minority group suffers some level of discrimination and ostrasization because they simply are less integrated culturally into the larger group of people. As a minority in the area I live in, I can attest to some of those same problems myself (although, to a more recent degree and not over such an large expanse of time) and, sometimes one does indeed feel less welcome or left out or misunderstood. It is the way society works and one must deal with it and both groups, the majority and the minority, should do their best to make life good.  I love where I live, even though I am a minority (white in a heavily black county) and I take my status in stride and do my best to be a good citizen and not overreact to certain situations or attitudes.

One day I was walking around in a posh area of town, putting fliers in mailboxes in an attempt to find my lost cat. A black woman in a BMW pulled up next to me and asked what I was doing in the area! Why? Because I was a sloppily dressed white woman wandering about in a wealthy black part of town. I told her why and she took a flier and wished me good luck in finding my cat. I could have been all "you are a racist" about the incident but I figured she was concerned that I didn't look like a local resident and was only protecting her neighborhood from harm. Suppose she was right and I was casing the area for future burglaries and I jumped her and started punching her and she pulled a gun out and shot me,  hmmm, would we see a national news story here about racial profiling?

Anyway, to Starbucks. There are three possible versions of what happened here and we have to wait and see what the truth is. We need to find out who the three men involved actually were; the two black men sitting at the tables and the white man who claims to be the friend they were waiting for.

Version One: The most innocent/concerning version would be that two black actual real estate brokers were waiting for a third real estate broker in order to discuss business. They hadn't ordered because they were waiting for their party to arrive before their got their refreshments. While waiting, one needed to use the bathroom and when he attempted to do so, was stopped by the Starbucks' employee and told he could not due to the fact he was not a paying customer at that point. Returning to his seat, he continued to sit without purchasing any drink or snack and he and his friend were asked to leave if they were not going to buy anything. Maybe they said they were waiting for a friend or maybe they didn't, but Starbucks obviously felt they were just loitering which is against policy and asked them to leave. They refused. The police were called. The police asked them to leave. They refused. The police arrested them for trespassing. A white man then stepped in and said he was there and was going to buy them coffee but it was too late.

Was Starbucks wrong? I tend not to think so. First of all, we have no idea what that particular Starbucks has to deal with on a daily basis, how often they have drug users and dealers and homeless guys loitering in their restaurant, bothering people, shooting up drugs in the bathroom, selling drugs in the bathroom and even having sex in the bathroom. If you have to keep your establishment clean and safe, you HAVE to have rules and you HAVE to profile. The rules are simple at Starbucks and meant to prevent problems: one, you must be a paying customer if you want to use the toilets and you must be a paying customer if you want to hand around for any length of time.

These two men knew these rules and they did not abide by either of them. If the "friend they were meeting" was late, they could have gone ahead and ordered some coffee and drank it while they waited and then they also would have had the right to use the bathroom. After all, if they were really real estate brokers, they could have afforded the drinks. Also, they could have simply left the establishment and waited outside for their friend if they were unwilling to make a purchase while they were waiting.

You might say, yeah, but white guys don't get so scrutinized. We don't know that is true. A lot would depend on their behavior as well as how they were dressed. Sorry, but those two guys did not look like real estate brokers to me. Their hair and dress makes me question that. Maybe they are real estate brokers but they kind of looked a bit like bums so that could certainly have influenced the viewpoint of the Starbucks employees. Also, did they speak like professional men or like troublemakers?

If these really were two real estate brokers meeting another real estate broker, then it is my suggestion they follow the rules of the establishment and dress and act better. Believe me, when I have entered an establishment looking less-than-spiffy, I have gotten profiled as well. Once when I was in Costa Rica, I went to a local Taco Bell at midnight after an all-day long grueling drive involving floods, landslides, and mountain fog. Being a vegetarian, that Taco Bell (in a businessman's district, not a tourist area) had only a Cheesy Potato Taco (not even a bean burrito) as a vegetarian choice. I gave the guy a couple dollars and bought two of the little tacos and he told me to wait a minute. Then he came back and pushed a bag toward me and whispered "Here is a little extra food for you." Hah! He thought I was a homeless druggie because why else would a disheveled white woman show up in that area at midnight buying so little food? He may have misprofiled me but I could hardly blame him for his analysis. Likewise, Starbucks MAY have misprofiled these guys but I don't think, if that was the case, they are entirely to blame.

Version Two: The two guys aren't real estate brokers at all. They really were loitering and when they were getting arrested, some white guy decided to fight the fight against racism  and claimed he was coming to meet them and was going to buy them coffee.

Version Three: It is a setup. These guys ARE real estate brokers but planned with a white colleague to set Starbucks up. They dressed down, loitered, tried to use the bathroom, refused to leave, and when the police arrived, signaled the friend to show up. The plan? To prove racism and maybe make a big lawsuit payday.

Which version will turn out to be true? I don't know. We have to wait until all the evidence is in.

All I can say now is that I do not see this as a big racial discrimination moment for Starbucks and I find it rather frustrating that they are apologizing for standing up for their store policy when it was clear there was a store policy and these two men violated it. The police also have nothing to apologize for as they were doing their job and were quite polite about it.

As I keep saying, I am all for pointing out true racial discrimination and true police misconduct but if the country keeps using poor examples as race problems, they are only fanning the flames and causing a race war and this is NOT how to make things better.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown
April 15, 2018 


Pat Brown said...

Okay, so now the claim is they were meeting a family friend, not a fellow real estate broker. So, if this is so, why are they not buying their own coffee? Also, there is a claim that BOTH men asked to use the bathroom. Really? Within minutes of arrival, BOTH men suddenly need to use the toilet? Something is wrong with this scenario.

AMGallegos said...

The company doesn't have a problem with these men's behaviour, nor do the police, but somehow you think something is wrong with this scenario? Yes, it's called systematic racism.

Pat Brown said...


You are not accurate with these claims. The company DID have an issue with the men's behavior and that is why they were asked to either become paying customers or leave the establishment. The reason Starbucks HQ is now putting out a sort of apology is that they are afraid of losing business by being labeled a racist company. The police also had a problem with the men's behavior because they were required to arrest them on trespassing charges and have backed their officers' actions.

Systemic racism is something else and this is not an example of it. If the men had been refused service, this would have been another matter. But, then again, suppose they had come in without shirts on and been refused service, would this have been racism? The problem is claiming racism where there actually is no proof of racism. If one wants to focus on true racism and let's work on that. Claiming racism where none is clearly present is like crying wolf and also inflaming society to a point of moving backwards in time, losing all the progress that has been made. Also trying to force people to agree that racism has occurred where it is questionable it has ends up alienating people who could be helpful to positive change.

Pat Brown said...

There is another interesting bit here. Andrew Yaffe, the white man in the video who says he is there to meet the men, arrived at least forty-five minutes after the incident began according to this statement:

"The incident occurred around 4:30 p.m., DePino told Billy Penn. At the time she tweeted her video (5:12 p.m.), she said, the men were being put into a patrol car.

According to DePino’s original tweet, the men hadn’t yet ordered anything because they were waiting for a friend, who arrived just as they were being led away."

Why is this person the two men supposedly meeting arriving more than 45 minutes after these two men sat down?

We do not yet know the names of the two men which I also find odd as this is something that usually comes out quickly. Are the two men really realtors and did they really know this Yaffe guy and, if they did, why didn't he arrive until after they were arrested?

I am curious to find out this information.

Pat Brown said...

Another thing I find odd is that this Yaffe guy and the two black guys do not really seem to know each other. He doesn't call out their names nor do they call out his. In fact, there is no interaction between them at all which I find weird because if I were meeting someone and the police interfered with the meeting, I would be at least say something to the person or persons I was meeting and not ignore them and just talk to the police. If I were so late that the guys I was meeting got arrested, I would be apologizing to them. Almost seems like Yaffe was just standing up for them because he was there when it was just happening. I dunno, I really am curious to find out who these guys are who are supposedly meeting with Yaffe to discuss business opportunities.

Pat Brown said...

"When the Police arrived, they were informed by the manager the pair were TRESPASSING. The two were then asked for ID (a LAWFUL command by Police when conducting an investigation) which they REPEATEDLY refused to provide, then and ONLY then (after at least SEVEN minutes of them refusing to produce ID) did the Police opt to take them into custody to CONTINUE conducting the original TRESPASSING investigation."