Six police officers were asked to leave a Starbucks coffee shop on the Fourth of July after a customer reportedly told an employee that the officers made them “not feel safe.”
The Tempe, Arizona officers were enjoying coffee before their shift when a barista asked them to leave or “move out of the complaining customer’s line of sight.” The officers, who were extremely offended, chose to leave the store.
The next day, the Tempe Officers Association addressed the incident on Twitter by posting a mock Starbucks logo that contained the words “Dump Starbucks.”
The police union also tweeted out the following statement regarding the incident: “This treatment of public safety workers could not be more disheartening. While the barista was polite, making such a request at all was offensive. Unfortunately, such treatment has become all too common in 2019.”
Rob Ferraro, president of the Tempe Officers Association, said that it was “perplexing” that people would feel unsafe around those who protect them.
The union did not blame Starbucks’ corporate office, but rather said it looked forward “to working collaboratively with them on this important dialogue.”
Starbucks, in a statement regarding the incident, said it is doing an investigation.
Immediately after the news broke about the controversy, many took to Twitter to show their support for the police, using the #boycottstarbucks hashtag.
On July 6, Starbucks released an apology to the Tempe Police Department. Rossann Williams, executive vice president of Starbucks, wrote the following: “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. What occurred in our store on July 4 is never the experience your officers or any customer should have, and at Starbucks, we are already taking the necessary steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again in the future.”
Last year, Starbucks faced controversy for an alleged racial profiling incident that involved two black men being arrested in a Philadelphia store. Starbucks responded by closing 8,000 U.S. stores for a day so that 175,000 employees could participate in racial sensitivity training.