Video has more than 2 million views on Twitter by Saturday morning
A video of two African American men being removed by at least six officers from a Philadelphia Starbucks as they were reportedly waiting for a business associate has mostly drawn outrage on social media, as well as some officer support — racking up over 2 million views on Twitter by 11 a.m. Eastern Saturday.
The attention prompted an internal investigation by the police department after onlooker video of the arrests was posted earlier this week, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
A second video from the Thursday incident, below, apparently taken minutes earlier and leading up to the arrest, shows a group of Philadelphia police officers speaking to the men and removing chairs and tables from around the table where they are seated. The men sit calmly as the officers move closer.
Then a third man, identified by the Inquirer as Alan Yaffe, who is white, enters the frame and questions why the police are standing over the men. One officer says they are “trespassing,” and adds they had been asked to leave. They apparently were waiting for Yaffe before ordering.
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“Why would they be asked to leave?” Yaffe, a real estate developer, asks, according to the video and an account of the interaction in the Inquirer. Yaffe tells the officers that the men were waiting for him. “I wanted to get coffee for two black guys sitting and meeting with me,” he says. “Does anybody else think this is ridiculous?” he asks other patrons in the cafe. A woman can be heard agreeing. “It’s absolute discrimination,” Yaffe adds.
Yaffe tells the officers that he and the men are willing to go elsewhere to meet, to which an officer responds it’s too late for that because the men had previously declined to leave. The video includes the arrest of the men, who are led out of the coffee shop without protest. The Inquirer identifies the two targeted men — who could have faced charges of “defiant trespass,” but were released on lack of evidence — as commercial real estate professionals.
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Philadelphia police say they are investigating.
Starbucks(SBUX) at around noon Eastern on Saturday, tweeted an apology.
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Rachel Koning Beals is a MarketWatch news editor in Chicago.
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