Footage of two black men handcuffed in Starbucks prompts police investigation

Tanya Edwards
Photo: Melissa DePino via Twitter

A viral video of two men being arrested in a Starbucks has raised questions about police procedure and created a firestorm of debate online.

Footage of the startling incident was shared on Twitter by writer Melissa DePino. The video of the event, which reportedly took place on Thursday inside a Philadelphia Starbucks, has been viewed almost two million times (as of this writing) since it was uploaded. DePino wrote in her tweet that “The police were called because these men hadn’t ordered anything.”


The clips show the two black men being removed from the restaurant as another man is seen talking to a police officer, telling him the situation is “ridiculous.”

The officer says, “We got called. We didn’t just come out here.”

But the man doesn’t back off, asking the officers, “What did they get called for? Because they were two black guys sitting waiting to meet me? What did they do? What did they do? Tell me what they did.”

You can hear a woman saying, “They didn’t do anything, I saw the entire thing,”

DePino claimed on Twitter that a Starbucks employee phoned police. A debate about the cause of the arrest started almost instantly, with DePino tweeting people have assumed there “must be something more to this story.”


Some wrote exactly that.

Others pointed out that witnesses said the two men were minding their own business.

The two men were released early on Friday morning, reportedly with the help of a local attorney, who tweeted that “The video speaks for itself.”

The Philadelphia police department said in its own tweet that it’s reviewing the incident.



Starbucks told Yahoo Lifestyle, “We strive to create a culture in our stores where everyone is welcome, and where everyone belongs. We believe in treating each other with dignity and respect, and will thoroughly investigate this incident.”


Updated April 14, 4:00pm: 

The Associated Press reports that Philadelphia’s police commissioner is defending his officers’ decision to arrest the two men in Starbucks.

Commissioner Richard Ross, who is black, said police asked the men to leave three times but they refused. They were arrested and released. Ross said his officers “did absolutely nothing wrong.”

There was no mention of the white man in the video who said he was meeting with the men. He called the arrest “ridiculous” on video.

Starbucks tweeted an additional message, further apologizing for the incident.

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