Starbucks to Close Stores for Racial-Bias Training for Employees - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Starbucks to Close Stores for Racial-Bias Training for Employees

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Courtesy: MGN, Melissa DePino / Twitter Courtesy: MGN, Melissa DePino / Twitter

Starbucks says it will close its more than 8,000 U.S. stores for several hours next month to conduct racial-bias training to its nearly 175,000 workers.

The announcement comes after two black men were arrested in a Philadelphia Starbucks store, sparking protests and calls for a boycott on social media.

Starbucks Corp. says the stores will be closed on the afternoon on May 29. Its corporate offices will also be closed at that time.

"We're looking at all aspects to ensure that this never happens again," CEO Kevin Johnson said Monday.

Asked if the incident was a case of racism, he responded: "Starbucks was built around the concept of a third place where we create a warm and welcoming environment for all customers. What I do know is that did not happen in this instance. And that is what we're focused on."

Johnson said he hopes to meet the two men in the next couple of days. He says he's like to have a dialogue with them and listen with "compassion and empathy" about what they went through.

Attorney Stewart Cohen, who represents the two men, said this was a clear case of racial profiling.

"When I walk in and I don't order anything and I'm dressed like this, no manager is calling the police on me," Cohen told CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller. 
 
"If they were white, would this have happened?" Miller asked.

"None of the white customers were asked to leave, and they were there a lot longer than those young men who were just there for a few minutes," Cohen said.

Cell phone video shows two black men staying calm in their seats as officers repeatedly ordered them to leave. A third potential business partner arrives a few minutes later and offers to move their meeting somewhere else – but by then it was too late.
 
"They're not free to leave. We're done. We're done with that. We asked them to leave the first time," one police officer could be heard saying.

"That's absolutely discrimination!" one witness said, adding, "They didn't do anything. I saw the entire thing."

Starbucks often touts its initiatives on race and diversity, but now it's under pressure from activists and protesters gathering outside the Philadelphia store for a second day in a row. Activists accused both Starbucks and Philadelphia police of racism.

"We'll work very hard to ensure that we evaluate our training," said Camille Hymes, a Starbucks regional vice president.

(The Associated Press, CBS News contributed to this report.)

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