Imagine what it would feel like to have people cross the street when they see you walking toward them on the sidewalk. Imagine standing at a streetlight waiting for the light to change and hearing people in their cars hit the door locks. Imagine knowing that you would have to have a talk with your too-young son about how to avoid getting shot. That is the experience of many black people, but it gets worse.
Lorne Green walked into a Brandon, Florida Starbucks and headed toward the restrooms prior to ordering. He was a target from that very moment.
Green’s attorney Jasmine Rand held a news conference where she said, according to FOX 13:
‘Almost as soon as he entered the door, he heard somebody say, “There’s a big black guy headed to the restroom.” A few minutes later, this incessant knocking starts, knocking on the door, over and over again, “Do you need Fire Rescue? Do you need Fire Rescue?”‘
Both Green and his attorney think that the Starbucks’ employee was trying to get him to exit the restroom and the entire place of business. Rather than do that, the man stood up for his rights. He believed that the coffee shop was once again racial profiling, so he pulled out his cell phone and called corporate headquarters.
In the press conference, Rand played two minutes of a recorded phone call from Green to the Starbucks corporate telephone number. Both Green and the Starbucks headquarters taped the call, which lasted a total of 20 minutes. During the portion of the recording that she released, Green could be heard saying:
‘I used the bathroom and they called the police on me. And she said I’m a black male and they called the police on me.’
The corporate customer service representative then asked Green:
‘It is very because I walked in and she immediately — in not even five minutes — she goes, “a black male went inside,” and called the police on me before I even got in the bathroom.’
Green claimed that he heard someone twice refer to him as “the big black guy.” Eventually, he left the restroom, but an employee had already phoned the Hillsborough deputies. When they arrived, the employees asked them to give him a trespassing ticket.
This was not the first time that Starbucks has had a problem with racial profiling. Last year in Philadelphia, two black men had been sitting in the shop and visiting. Since they had not made a purchase, the coffee shop’s employees called the police to arrest them.
As a result of the publicity, Starbucks changed its policy which now allows anyone, and that includes those who did not make a purchase, to sit in its shops and use their restrooms. The corporation also closed down all of its stores and held half-day racial-bias training for every employee.
Green’s attorney noted:
‘Here we are again, a year later, and you failed in your promise to the public to keep them safe.’
Then, Green added:
‘I have never experienced anything like this to this degree. This is extreme.’
In the press conference, Green claimed that the Startbucks’ employees harassed and humiliated him:
‘It’s being humiliating and defaming me and belittling me. I just feel awful and I tried to make the best out of something that was truly escalating out of control.’
FOX 13 contacted a Starbucks headquarters spokesperson by phone, who said:
‘We always strive to create a warm environment where everyone feels welcome. We have zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind and take this type of accusation very seriously. We are conducting an investigation to understand what happened and will take appropriate action.’
Green said he intended to file a lawsuit against Starbucks sometime in the future. While he is waiting, the man indicated that he has requested “the trespassing citation dropped and the employee fired.”
Featured image is a screenshot via Twitter.