City Offices of Black Male Engagement, LGBT Affairs, Youth Engagement and Engagement for Women Release Statements Regarding Recent Arrests of Two African American Men at Starbucks

PHILADELPHIA – Today, City leaders released the following statements reflecting on the April 12 incident where two African American men were arrested while waiting in a Starbucks restaurant in Rittenhouse Square.

Jack Drummond, Director, Office of Black Male Engagement

Today, black men in the city and across the country know that there’s another action added to the things you can’t do ‘while black’ – getting a cup of coffee. It’s frustrating to hear about yet another incident where Black men were judged for being Black and present – and as it relates to this incident, being Black, present, and sitting in a coffeeshop.

I’m still not sure who felt threatened at Starbucks and why.  I am still not convinced that the men had to be arrested to solve the matter.  I’m also finding it hard to believe that if these two Black men were anyone else, that they would endure the scrutiny, humiliation, and overall embarrassment.  This adds to the everyday trauma faced by Black men all over the city, the nation, and unfortunately, in the world, that is caused by racism and discrimination.

The best thing these men did was cooperate and not get hostile over the incident.  It is now our responsibility to do something about it.  In response to the incident, the Mayor’s Office of Black Male Engagement will host a Community Conversation revolving around Justice this Thursday, April 19, 5:30p at Community College of Philadelphia.  We invite concerned Philadelphians to join us as we work together to transform the current narrative for how Black men are treated and discuss lessons learned from this incident.

Find out more information about this Thursday’s Community Conversation around Justice by visiting  Join us as we look to seek truth for unanswered questions and make an intentional effort to hold responsible parties accountable.

Amber Hikes, Director, Office of LGBT Affairs & LGBT Affairs Commission

All civil rights issues are our issues: whether they concern race, age, class, religion, ability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Injustice against any of us is an injustice to all of us. We stand not only with the two black men who were wrongfully detained, but also with the countless people of color whose very existence continues to be daily undervalued and overpoliced — often without the benefit of a running camera. Unfortunately, this incident is indicative of the tremendous harm caused when implicit and explicit bias go unchecked and play out in our broader Philadelphia community, and society at large.

We join our fellow Philadelphians in demanding accountability from Starbucks, including the responsible Starbucks employees, as well as law enforcement. We know this incident was not the first, and it cannot be the last unless we use the reprehensible events of that day to bring us closer to a more just and equal society where all are treated with respect and dignity.

Jovida Hill, Director, Office of Engagement for Women

As we recently commemorated the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., it saddens me that we are still a long way from Dr. King’s “beloved community” where people are judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.

What happened at Starbucks last week, and what continues to happen on a regular basis across this city and this nation to black and brown people, should make us all ashamed. Racial profiling has no place in a democratic society, or at any workplace including Starbucks.

Ricardo Calderon, Director, Office of Youth Engagement

The incident at Starbucks is another troubling and public revelation that bias and fear lead to discrimination.  Too many of our leaders and community members, including family and loved ones, have fought and died for racial justice and equality, and yet the struggle persists today.

Tragically, issues of bias and discrimination affects all generations and how we believe it is important that the voices of youth are a part of this conversation.  I’m confident that young people in the city and across the country will help further the conversation and continue the struggle for the generations that follow us.