Starbucks executives meet with Tempe police after cops were asked to leave store

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By CBS News

Starbucks is apologizing to an Arizona police department after six officers were apparently asked to leave a store on the Fourth of July. This was because a customer said the officers made him feel unsafe.

The coffee giant faces growing backlash online. It includes the hashtags: #DumpStarbucks and #BoycottStarbucks.

Starbucks released a statement calling the incident “completely unacceptable” and mentioned that it’s actually in the past partnered with the Tempe police to host the community outreach event, “Coffee with a Cop.” Now it’s sent executives to apologize face-to-face.

The association for the Tempe, Arizona, police department, says on the Fourth of July, six officers were enjoying their drinks at a Starbucks ahead of their holiday shift when a barista asked them to leave because a customer complained their presence made him feel unsafe.

After the officers left, the association tweeted, “Several of those cops are #veterans who fought for this country! #ZeroRespect,” alongside a “Dump Starbucks” image. It’s a message that quickly began trending online, along with the hashtag “Boycott Starbucks.”

Association president Rob Ferraro later went on Fox News and clarified his organization’s stance.

“We’re not asking for a boycott of Starbucks,” Ferraro said. “And we don’t want the employee fired… Hopefully this is a learning opportunity and we can move forward.”

Some people are also backing the customer who complained. On Twitter, one user wrote: “I don’t feel safe around the police, ever. You need to work harder to earn our respect and trust,” and another wrote that perhaps the customer felt unsafe because of “a history of racial profiling and police brutality in Arizona.”

In January, a Tempe police officer shot and killed a 14-year-old boy suspected in a burglary. Police say he was carrying an airsoft replica handgun. The shooting drew outrage in the community. The officer resigned and the shooting is being investigated.

Last year, two Black men at a Starbucks in Philadelphia were arrested after a white employee called police on them while the men were waiting for a business meeting inside the store. Philadelphia PD later apologized.

In an interview with Gayle King shortly after, former Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz also apologized. In response, Starbucks closed its more than 8,000 stores for a day so employees could participate in racial sensitivity training.

“I think what occurred was reprehensible at every single level,” Schultz said. “I want to personally apologize to anyone who has ever felt anything other than respect and dignity in our stores.”

The customer and officers involved in this incident here in Tempe have not been identified, but according to the New York Times, they are all white men.

The department tells CBS News it met with Starbucks executives yesterday and will continue to talk today, as they work together to strengthen their relationship.

This article originally appeared on CBS News.

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