The two black men arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks last week, have spoken out for the first time saying they hope the racial-bias incident sparks change.
“It’s not just a black people thing. This is a people thing,” Rashon Nelson said in appearing with Donte Robinson on ABC’s Good Morning America. “And that’s exactly what we want to see out of this and that’s true change…Put action into place.”
They said the case, in which store personnel ordered them to leave as they waited for a friend without buying food or drinks, is about basic fairness.
“Rules are rules, but what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong. That’s in any situation whether there’s race involved or anything,” Robinson said. “I want to make sure that this situation doesn’t happen again, so what I want is for… young men to not be traumatized by this and instead motivated, inspired.”
The pair arrived at the coffee shop in the Center City neighborhood of downtown Philadelphia at 4:35 p.m. on Thursday for a 4:45 p.m. meeting about a real estate deal they’d been working on for months, according to the interview. Nelson asked to use the bathroom but was told it was for paying customers only, so the two men sat down to wait for the business associate. An employee then came over to ask if they wanted to order anything, but because they had bottled water with them, they declined. The 911 call was placed at 4:37 p.m.
Robinson said the police officers didn’t read them their rights.
The famous coffee chain had no immediate comment on Nelson’s and Robinson’s comments. The two men’s lawyer, Stewart Cohen, told GMA that they were in mediation with Starbucks under the supervision of a retired federal judge and couldn’t comment on it. The CEO had previously apologized in person.
Take a look at the protests that have sparked since the incident.