It looks like the mandated diversity training for all Starbucks employees last year was paying off in some unexpected ways. That is, depending on who you ask.
A police union in Arizona certainly begged to differ when it complained loudly on Twitter about some of its officers who were asked to leave a Starbucks they were in on the Fourth of July. The Tempe Officer Association said it didn’t “appreciate” the gesture, claiming that some of the officers who were in that location in Tempe were veterans.
But according to the local ABC affiliate, the group of six officers was making customers nervous. One reportedly told this to a barista, who then asked the cops to leave. They complied but still apparently felt some type of a way enough to complain to their union.
“We know this is not a national policy at Starbucks Corporate and we look forward to working collaboratively with them on this important dialogue,” the Tempe Police union said as part of its statement.
However, chances are that this union didn’t have much of anything to say when police arrested two Black men were waiting in a Philadelphia Starbucks last year. In that instance, a barista notified police because the two Black men were sitting down and hadn’t bought anything. Like this time around, the entire ugly episode prompted calls for a boycott before the coffee chain ultimately responded by closing all of its shops for a day of anti-bias training.
On Thursday, it appeared that training was heeded by at least one barista, who clearly ascribes to the famous adage that the customer is always right.
That barista’s decision-making process could have also been informed by the nearby Phoenix Police Department’s involvement in threatening to kill an unarmed Black family, including two young children and a pregnant woman, in a confrontation recorded on a video that went viral. The video shined a light on allegedly years of unchecked and rampant police abusing and violating the civil rights of citizens, especially Black ones.
Given those recent events and the close proximity of Tempe to Phoenix, which is just a 17-minute drive away, it was completely understandable why the presence of police inside a Starbucks could have made one or more customers uncomfortably nervous.
There was plenty of irony in comparing the two incidents at Starbucks, which, unlike last time, was on the receiving end of support and compassion from Twitter users who posted what seemed like a neverending string of tweets mocking the Tempe Officers Union nursing its hurt feelings. Scroll down to see some of the top responses.