The arrest of two young black men in a Philadelphia Starbucks has led to pointed questions about civil rights and policing in that city, and an image crisis for America's most successful coffee company.
Protests followed the incident, part of which was recorded, and Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson apologized, then offered to meet with Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson, the two men who were taken out of a coffee shop in handcuffs on April 12. Arrested on suspicion of trespassing, no charges were filed against them.
As it turned out, just days before Robinson and Nelson were arrested, an incident with a similar beginning -- employees of a massive chain restaurant corporation, calling the cops for assistance removing someone from the premises -- had occurred in Minneapolis. In this case, at least the ending was different.
A video posted to Facebook last week shows a man occupying a booth seat at the Chipotle on the University of Minnesota's West Bank campus. Two Minneapolis Police officers stand above him, with a third visible just a few steps away.
"You gotta get up," one of the cops says, later adding what sounds like, "You've gotta get out of here, let's go."
The man stands up, and is escorted out of the Chipotle by his wrists. The video ends without resolution of what happens next.
As the woman who shared the video to Facebook wrote:
"This person had their head down at Chipotle on the West Bank (4/6/18) and employees called police. What community resources do we have so that we don't need to call the police? Also, it takes that many of them? For real? I wasn't bothered by them just being there with their head down. But was this seen as a threat to Chipotle's business and maintaining that dollar flow?"
Maybe so, though a Chipotle spokesperson says the incident played out this way out of concern for the man involved. He'd been inside the restaurant "for about two hours," the spokesperson comments, during which time he "kept nodding off and couldn't stay awake."
Chipotle employees and customers tried checking on the man to see if he was OK, the spokesperson asserts, before a call was made to 911 "out of concern for his well-being." Cops arrived first to the scene.
Watch the video below.
Posted by May Esperanza Losloso on Tuesday, April 17, 2018
And why so many of them, just to deal with one person falling asleep?
"Normally, we would respond with either a two-person car, or two people driving separate in one-person cars," Minneapolis Police spokesman John Elder says. "In this case, two of those officers were recruits, training in."
Elder says the cops -- responding to a call filed as an "unwant," short for "unwanted" -- advised this man that if he wasn't buying anything, he'd need to leave the Chipotle. In the end, after seeing the man out the door, police released him to the sidewalk.
"There was no indication he wasn't able to care for himself," Elder says. "He didn't pose a danger to himself or others, and was left to be released."
The woman who published video of the man's removal to Facebook, where it's been seen more than 7,000 times, ended her post by asking: "How do we treat others with dignity and love?"
It's a good question. Maybe it's the only question.
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