At least 12 Starbucks stores in the Charleston region are closing at around 2 p.m. Tuesday afternoon for racial bias trainings after a Philadelphia barista called the cops on two black men for sitting in a store on April 12.
On April 17, the Seattle-based coffee company announced it would shut down close to 8,000 stores nationwide for the training.
Only corporate stores are available for the four-hour sessions, not ones nestled within Targets and Harris Teeters. There are about 11 eligible stores spread throughout North Charleston, West Ashley, James Island, Daniel Island, Mt. Pleasant, and the peninsula, where only three stores — one on East Bay and Calhoun, one near King and Beaufain, and one on King and Mary streets— will be closing.
The Francis Marion location at King and Calhoun streets is closed for renovations until August.
The training is expected to reach about 175,000 employees, according to the company.
Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson, the two men arrested at the Philadelphia store, settled with the city for $1 each. The city will also use $200,000 to set up a youth entrepreneurship program, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
According to the New York Times, the men first asked to use the bathroom. An employee refused to let them because they hadn’t bought anything. They were asked to leave, and an employee called the cops when they declined. (She no longer works there, according to the company.)
One of the men was led out in handcuffs, and they were both charged on suspicion of trespassing before eventually being released.
The seemingly unnecessary arrests sparked a wave of protests in stores across the country.
The two men also settled with Starbucks for an undisclosed amount, and will be provided with free undergraduate tuition to Arizona State University through an already-existing partnership between the university and the company.
[embed-2] The arrests contributed to public debate about people of color being arrested for doing everyday things, like sleeping in the common room of a college dorm or hosting a barbecue.
Though little is known about how the trainings will be conducted, the company released a preview video on May 23 that began with footage of the controversial arrests. The rapper Common appears in the video as “one of our guides,” according to the narrator.
“By educating ourselves on understanding bias and how it affects our lives and the lives of the people we encounter and serve, we renew our commitment to making the third place welcoming and safe for everyone,” said Starbucks executive vice president of U.S. retail Rossann Williams in a letter to employees last week, referring to the company’s goal of serving as a necessary space away from home or work.