'I'm Not Aware Of That': Starbucks Employees Receive Racial Bias Training


Starbucks is open every day of the year, though it may sometimes alter its hours at varying locations for certain holidays.

Starbucks stores, including more than two dozen in Hawaii, closed their doors at 2:30 p.m. today to conduct racial-bias training for employees.

Within two minutes after entering the store, the manager called 911 and police officers arrested the men for trespassing and walked them out of the store in handcuffs when they refused requests to leave.

"I support what they're doing", he said.

An arrest video sparked a nationwide outcry and apologies from the Philadelphia police commissioner and Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, who called the arrests "reprehensible".

This will mark only the second time that Starbucks has closed all locations for training efforts. "We have much to do", said Rosalind Brewer, chief operating officer and group president.

Tuesday's session will focus on understanding both racial bias and the history of racial discrimination in public spaces in the US.

Eyewitness News Reporter Eric Deabill has reaction from local customers. Employees will talk about their own experiences, and watch a film about bias.

"Even if it doesn't make a difference in this specific community, maybe just all the attention that's been brought to the population from the story has the possibility to shed light on the situation", says customer Jordyn Arndt. Nelson asked to use the restroom and was told they were opened only for paying customers, he said.

When asked about how the Stroudsburg Starbucks' participation could set an example, Jones said that more restaurants, companies and institutions should take notice and implement their own training to prevent racial bias, stating that more education couldn't hurt.

Being close to the university she said we have "students, teachers, all ages, backgrounds, religions, it's great". "I do honestly want to know what they're talking about".

Starbucks now says in the aftermath of the incident in Philadelphia, anyone can use their facilities without making a purchase.

Starbucks consulted a long list of experts in creating the training.

"All the other white people are wondering why it's never happened to us when we do the same thing", tweeted customer Melissa DePino, who posted a video of the incident. Associates at stores, distribution centers and global teams will soon be trained, the company said, as part of its "longstanding company commitment to diversity and inclusion" as a corporate core value.