Starbucks announces to close 8000 US stores for one afternoon
Starbucks, in an announcement made on Tuesday, said that the company will close 8,000 of their US cafes for the afternoon on May 29 in order to make their 175,000 employees undergo a racial tolerance training which is in response to protests after the arrest of two black men in a Philadelphia store.
While the 6,000 licensed Starbucks cafes including kiosks in locations such as grocery stores and airports will remain open, the company said that it will also provide training materials for non-company workers there.
The announcement came as it tries to cool tensions after public outrage over the arrest of two African American men at a downtown Starbucks sparked a corporate crisis.
The scene of two black men in handcuffs being led out of the Philadelphia coffee shop by police last week delivered an uncomfortable reminder of the country’s racial disparities. The incident illustrated the bias that can affect even the most normal activities such as meeting someone for coffee in the US public spaces. The two men, who got arrested were apparently waiting for a business associate when the manager called the police.
The controversy reportedly is the biggest public relations test so far for the new Starbucks Chief Executive Kevin Johnson, who already was fighting to boost traffic to Starbucks amid competition from coffee sellers ranging from hipster cafes to fast-food chains and convenience stores.