Philadelphia police have released audio to the 911 phone call that led to the arrest of two black males at a Starbucks on April 12. In a viral video uploaded to Twitter, multiple bystanders can be heard asserting that the men had done nothing wrong as police officers arrest the men. This new data confirms that the now-fired manager called the emergency line only because Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson hadn’t purchased anything and refused to leave.
“Hi. I have two gentlemen in my café that are refusing to make a purchase or leave,” a woman says. After she provides an address, the operator says, “Alright. Police will be out as soon as possible.”
The remainder of the recording features back-and-forth between the dispatcher and responding officers. According to the audio, shortly after law enforcement arrived on the scene at 4:41 p.m., officers requested backup and a supervisor to assist with a “group of males” who were “causing a disturbance” at the 1801 Spruce St. shop.
Nelson and Robinson were taken into custody for trespassing and were released nearly nine hours later after the district attorney rejected all charges.
In a new interview with Good Morning America, both men told their side to the story, which was that they walked in and immediately asked to use the restroom. The store manager said no, because it was for paying customers only. So Nelson and Robinson went to a table to wait for a third party to arrive, which is when the manager approached them to ask if she could help them with anything or “start [them] with some drinks or water.” Robinson says he told her that they were fine and that they were just going to have a business meeting quickly, then leave.
Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts noted that a 911 call was made approximately two minutes after the men entered the building. When police walked into the building, Robinson told her he thought, “They can’t be here for us.”
Officers reportedly walked up to Nelson and Robinson and told them that they had to leave. The men claim that they weren’t questioned about whether or not there was an issue, and that they weren’t read their rights. The Daily Meal has reached out to Philadelphia police for comment.
“In that moment, I’m trying to process what’s going on,” Robinson says. “Because it didn’t hit me what was going on until I’m being double-locked and my hands are behind my back.”
In the interview, Robinson and Nelson confirmed they had met with Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, but the men’s attorney Stewart Cohen disallowed his clients from discussing further due to a confidentiality agreement.
“I want to make sure this situation doesn’t happen again. So what I want is for a young man or young men to not be traumatized by this, and instead motivated and inspired,” Robinson continued.
“So you know, take this opportunity as a stepping stone to really stand up and show your greatness,” Nelson added. “And you are not judged by the color of your skin as our ancestors were or anyone else. This is something that has been going on for years and everyone is blind to it, but they know what’s going on if you get what I mean. Just really taking those actions and putting them into place, and help people understand that it’s not just a black people thing. This is a people thing.”
Starbucks will close all 8,000 of its company-owned stores in the afternoon of May 29 for “racial bias education.” Some 175,000 employees are expected to participate in the training, which is designed to prevent discrimination and promote inclusion. For more on the Seattle-based chain, here are 20 things you didn’t know about Starbucks.