TEDy: Public defense of loiterers

Ted Yarmoski, Opinion Editor

On May 29, Starbucks regulars won’t be able to order coffee as the company concedes to complaints of non-existent racial bias.

About a month ago, two men were ask to leave a Starbucks in Philadelphia after they occupied the venue and requested to use the restroom without purchasing any product. When they did not comply, the police were called by an employee and the men were arrested.

Although they were released later that day, headlines popped up across the nation after liberal activist Melissa DePino posted a video of the event which quickly went viral.

Normally, an event like this would struggle to make it onto even local news. However, with recent events such as the Yale student calling the police on a student  or the lady in Oakland trying to get a family arrested, society now emphasizes racial differences above more pertinent factors.

The “two black men,” as identified by headlines, failed to follow basic public policies and a direct request from a manager, essentially trespassing. They even refused to leave the store when asked to by police.

Following a logical course of action, they were arrested and removed from the Starbucks. However, this prompted baseless backlash from the public, which claimed that the move was racially motivated and that the men should have been able to use the busy store without purchasing a product.  

Why do these men in particular deserve any special privilege over others who follow rules and act reasonably? True racial discrimination should not be confused with people who are unable to follow basic, established rules. When considering that the stores are operational businesses, many agree that a Starbucks is not public property, but a business.

We live in a society where amateur activism has disproportionate impact, and the public outcry predictably forced Starbucks to cave in.

By closing all stores in the U.S. for “racial-bias training,” Starbucks is conceding that the event was an issue of racial-bias, instead of resisting the toxic public outcry. By doing this, Starbucks has shown that it cannot stand up to “social activists” reaching for an excuse to #boycottStarbucks.

Instead of being rewarded for taking action and following store policy, workers lost their jobs and ruined their reputations. Now, those working at these kinds of establishments will be scared to enforce simple business policies, fearing that their livelihoods and reputations will be tarnished.

Additionally, Starbucks will be making their bathrooms accessible to non-customers in a response to the incident. This will cost thousands in maintenance and upkeep costs across all locations and will only add onto the sizable bill stemming from the debacle, including the bad publicity and bias training costs.

Organizations should stand up to pseudo-activism and affirm that abiding by established rules should not call for damage to a company or the loss of jobs.