Six Arizona police officers were asked to leave a Starbucks store in Tempe, Arizona after a customer complained they felt “unsafe” because of the officers’ presence.
The ensuing social media backlash, with many calling for a boycott, has Starbucks scrambling to apologize.
ABC News reported that Six Tempe, Arizona, police officers were asked to leave a local Starbucks on the Fourth of July because a customer said the officers were making them feel uncomfortable, prompting an outcry on social media and an apology from Starbucks.
Reggie Borges, a Starbucks spokesman, told ABC News that the store and the officers have “a really good relationship with the Tempe police department,” and that the cafe often hosts ‘Coffee with a Cop’ events to cultivate the relationship in the community.
Don’t appreciate @Starbucks asking our #Tempe cops to leave your establishment on the #4thofjuly2019. Several of those cops are #veterans who fought for this country! #ZeroRespect pic.twitter.com/oGaDKhlYX3
— Tempe Officers Association (@ToaAz) July 5, 2019
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Starbucks apologized to the Tempe, Ariz., police department after some of its officers were asked to leave from one of its shops on the Fourth of July following complaints from a customer who said they didn’t feel safe with cops present.
The coffee giant apologized for any “misunderstanding or inappropriate behavior that may have taken place” and said it has “deep respect for the Tempe Police Department.”
The company went further on Saturday, with Rossann Williams, executive vice president, president U.S. retail, writing to the Tempe Police Department: “On behalf of Starbucks, I want to sincerely apologize to you all for the experience that six of your officers had in our store on July 4. When those officers entered the store and a customer raised a concern over their presence, they should have been welcomed and treated with dignity and the utmost respect by our partners (employees). Instead they were made to feel unwelcome and disrespected, which is completely unacceptable.”
She added: “At Starbucks, we have deep appreciation for your department and the officers who serve the Tempe community. Our partners rely on your service and welcome your presence, which keeps our stores and the community a safe and welcoming place.”
Six officers had purchased their drinks prior to their July 4 shift and were standing together when a barista asked them to leave because a customer said they did not feel safe by their presence, the Tempe Officers Association posted to its Facebook account.
The post was accompanied by a parody Starbucks logo featuring coffee being dumped from a cup. The union called the request “offensive” and said “such treatment has become all too common in 2019.”
“We know this is not a national policy at Starbucks Corporate and we look forward to working collaboratively with them on this important dialogue,” the union said.
It was not clear of the barista — who was not identified — would face disciplinary action.
In 2018, the coffee chain made headlines when two black men waiting for a business associate were arrested inside a Philadelphia shop for trespassing. The men received an apology from the city’s police commissioner and Starbucks closed 8,000 locations for the better part of a day to conduct “racial bias training.”