Washington, D.C. – Today, Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson, victims of a highly publicized wrongful arrest and detention at a Philadelphia Starbucks on April 12, 2018, called for Starbucks to undertake a comprehensive overhaul of its business practices to become a more racially equitable company following the company’s release of a report drafted by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. and DEMOS outlining recommended corporate reforms.
Mr. Robinson and Mr. Nelson retained the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to work with its attorneys at Cohen Placitella & Roth to assist in recommending specific actions to Starbucks. Mr. Robinson’s and Mr. Nelson’s recommendations include calling on the company to sponsor an SAT and college preparation program for public school students in Philadelphia and prominently posting a customer bill of rights in all Starbucks locations that details how customers who believe they have been discriminated against can report a complaint.
“What happened to us shouldn’t happen to anyone,” said Donte Robinson. “While we cannot change the events of April 12th, we are committed to doing what we can to increase opportunities in our community and to prevent other African Americans from being profiled at Starbucks or any other business. This report is an important first step. We look forward to continuing to work with Starbucks and other stakeholders to ensure it implements these recommendations.”
“We decided to turn what happened to us into something positive by using this moment as a call to action,” said Rashon Nelson. “We stand ready to work with Starbucks and other businesses that are committed to ensuring public spaces are inclusive and free from discrimination.”
Sadly, what happened to Rashon and Donte is all too common, as evidenced by recent incidents involving African Americans at golf clubs, restaurants and other public spaces,” said Dariely Rodriguez, Director of the Economic Justice Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.“I am inspired by Rashon and Donte’s selfless commitment in the face of adversity to improve their community and tackle race discrimination. We commend LDF and DEMOS for incorporating the complete recommendations made by Mr. Robinson and Mr. Nelson in the report. This report should serve as a notice to Starbucks and other businesses that they will be held accountable and that consumers of color must be treated with dignity and respect.”
In addition to the recommendations mentioned above, Mr. Robinson and Mr. Nelson also call on Starbucks to:
- Develop and implement a policy prohibiting discrimination by Starbucks employees against customers;
- Develop and implement an internal complaint process to promptly investigate consumer complaints of discrimination;
- Ongoing employee and supervisory training of policies related to restroom use, consumer profiling, and contacting law enforcement;
- Appointment of an independent consultant to monitor the implementation and effectiveness of corporate reforms designed to eliminate consumer discrimination, and;
- Commit financial resources to initiatives focused on developing best practices for interactions between retailers and law enforcement.