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Black men arrested at Starbucks settle case for $1 - and a $200k youth programme

The entrepreneur programme will be for Philadelphia public high school students.

Starbucks Black Men Arrested Rashon Nelson, left, and Donte Robinson, right, during an interview with The Associated Press. Source: Jacqueline Larma via AP

TWO BLACK MEN arrested for sitting at a Philadelphia Starbucks without ordering anything settled with the city for a symbolic $1 each and a promise from officials to set up a $200,000 programme for young entrepreneurs.

The men and their lawyer told The Associated Press that today’s settlement was an effort to make sure something positive came out of the incident.

“We thought long and hard about it and we feel like this is the best way to see that change that we want to see,” said Donte Robinson, one of those arrested.

It’s not a right-now thing that’s good for right now, but I feel like we will see the true change over time.

Starbucks Black Men Arrested Source: Jacqueline Larma

The arrest of Rashon Nelson and Robinson on 12 April touched off a furor in the US over racial profiling.

They were led away in handcuffs and accused of trespassing after the manager called police, saying the men refused to buy anything or leave. After spending hours in jail, they were released and no charges were filed.

Their arrest record will be expunged as part of the deal.

The men said they were waiting at the coffee shop in the city’s well-to-do Rittenhouse Square neighbourhood for a business meeting with a third man about a potential real estate opportunity.

Starbucks Black Men Arrested A Black Lives Matter activist from Philadelphia, demands the firing of a Starbucks cafe manager who called police. Source: Michael Bryant

“I am pleased to have resolved the potential claims against the city in this productive manner,” Mayor Jim Kenney said.

This was an incident that evoked a lot of pain in our city and put us under a national spotlight for unwanted reasons.

The entrepreneur programme will be for Philadelphia public high school students.

Nelson said he considers the incident a case of being at “the wrong place at the right time because of the outcome that can come out of it”.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross, who is black, at first defended his officers’ conduct, but days later issued a televised apology for the way the Starbucks call was handled.

During the uproar, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson came to Philadelphia to apologise to the men.

He also announced that more than 8,000 Starbucks stores in the US would close on the afternoon of 29 May so nearly 175,000 employees can get training in unconscious bias.

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