On Thursday, brave Starbucks employees avoided almost certain death at the hands of two Black real estate agents who came in...and sat...and waited for a friend. (But I'm sure they were pretty terrifying, just sitting there...talking.) In yet another entry for the Don't You Get Tired of Calling the Police About Nothing? file, Starbucks employees decided to call the police on two real estate agents because they assumed that the young men were up to no good. The police, instead of roundly chastising the employees for being complete morons, went ahead and arrested the two men, letting them out the next morning at 2 am. Starbucks headquarters said that they are "looking into it." (Who knows what that means. There's a video online of the unnecessary arrest- they should "look into" that.)
In the video of the arrest, there were people complaining to one of the cops that the men were being arrested for no reason. The cop just looked around, mumbling. For their part, the two young men were calm as they were needlessly shuttled down to the police station. What can you do, when one false move gets you labeled a "non-compliant thug" and you risk getting a bullet- ahem, let's just be honest- 20 or more bullets to your cranium? At this point, no one has been able to label the men as thugs, gangsters, or anything other than what they actually are: real estate agents who unfortunately chose Starbucks as a meeting point.
This isn't the first time I've heard of an incident like this- friends, family, and strangers have had similar experiences. A woman called the cops on my brother and me when we were outside at night in front of my sister's townhome. We had been sitting in the car, catching up, the window cracked to get some of the benefit of the cool night air, when this woman toddled up near our car and just stood there, the phone pressed to her face. She stood there for about ten minutes, listening to us talk about our friends and our jobs. Creepy.
"She's going to call the cops." My brother said, with a sigh.
"For...what?" I asked him. I hadn't had a lot of experience with people calling the police on me for...being alive in a particular place. Like what would the charge be? Talking in a car in front of your sister's house?
Sure enough, the woman informed me that she had called the police on us- oh guys, and she was "sorry" she had to do it, but she told them we were stealing construction materials. She had to explain that bit to me because she just kept mentioning that she called the cops on us since there was a "construction site over there," and I was thinking: what does a construction site have to do with you calling the police, you old nutbag? Eventually, the cops rolled by and then took off, never getting out of their squad car. I'm well aware that the night could have ended differently, and I often think about it.
That was a person-to-person experience, though. These businesses actually depend on our dollars. We have economic power that could easily translate to social power. We should cut off these racist businesses, these racist business-owners, these incompetent employees by simply not giving them our hard-earned money anymore. When people see that we won't accept poor treatment or them maligning us simply for having a different skin color, they will have to change their policies. Now, they may not become enlightened or smarter or more empathetic by any stretch, but they will realize that our dollars make a difference and people who are money-oriented will have to adapt.
I tried calling the Starbucks location to get a statement (and let's just be honest, to let them know how I felt about the situation- I'm not exactly a REAL journalist anyway), but only received a busy signal. I think they've probably received a lot of calls today, and let's hope they received some well-deserved criticism. (And when I say criticism, I think you know that I mean I hope they got cursed out over the past few days.)
Photo taken by Julius Schorzman