2 Philadelphia men in Starbucks controversy speak out
PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - "I was just trying to, you know, process the situation to myself at the time because I'm thinking about my family that I have, my community," Donte Robinson said. "So, in that moment, I'm trying to process what's going on. Because it didn't really hit me what was going on, that it was real, until I'm being double-locked, and my hand's behind my back."
The two men arrested in the viral video, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, are sharing their side of the story.
Nelson said he immediately asked to use the Starbucks rest room, but was told not without a purchase.
The men claim after they told an employee they did not need anything to drink, the police were called two minutes after their arrival.
“As soon as they approach us they say we have to leave. There was no question of was there a problem between you guys and the manager, what happened,” said Rashon Nelson.
“Just double locked handcuffed behind our backs, walked out into a squad car,” said Donte Robinson.
Aaron Freiwald is a city attorney who has handled similar cases.
“We call these types of cases a shopping while black case. A discrimination case based on the fact that the customer is black,” Freiwald explained.
The attorney for the mend says they are mediation with Starbucks overseen by a retired federal judge in Philadelphia.
Freiwald says they’re likely working to settle the case before going to court.
FOX 29’s Jeff Cole asks Freiwald, “Could each of these men get one million dollars each from Starbucks?”
“It’s certainly possible,” Freiwald answers. Cole asks, “A million dollars?”
“Yeah, well how badly does Starbucks want to settle this case?” responds Freiwald.
The incident happened April 14 in a Rittenhouse Square Starbucks.
The two men were there to meet with a third man about a real estate deal. Video of the arrest was shared widely, sparking protests.
Robinson was asked why he didn’t leave when told to by police.
“I understand that 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 not,” Robinson explained.
Freiwald says the men have an opportunity to press the coffee chain to improve its practices, which Starbucks seems willing to do.
He sees another incentive for the company.
“The risk if Starbucks were to take this to trial could be enormous,” Freiwald said.
The two men also spoke Thursday with the Associated Press, saying they feared for their lives.