After two black men were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks earlier this month, the discriminatory nature of the event sparked a national backlash.
Now, the men are being praised for their symbolically progressive settlement with the city.
In exchange for expunging the city and company of all claims, Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson are settling for $1 each and a pledge from the city to create a $200,000 grant program for high school entrepreneurs.
“We thought long and hard about it and we feel like this is the best way to see that change that we want to see,” said Robinson, according to the Associated Press. “It’s not a right-now thing that’s good for right now, but I feel like we will see the true change over time.”
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement, “I am pleased to have resolved the potential claims against the city in this productive manner,” adding that the men first proposed the idea to Philly officials “in an attempt to make something positive come of this.”
The 23-year-old men will both serve on a committee to create and award the grant, and the program’s curriculum is expected to help educate Philadelphia public school students on the challenges and benefits of being business owners. Neither Robinson, Nelson, or their attorneys will be receiving any money from the grant program.
Nelson and Robinson were launched into the judicial fiasco after they were arrested for sitting in a Starbucks restaurant in mid-April. They had been waiting to embark on a real estate business deal with a third party when the manager called the police and accused the young men of trespassing because they had not bought anything from the store.
A video of the men being led away in handcuffs then went viral. Robinson and Nelson spent eight hours in jail before they were released without any charges filed or changes to their criminal records.
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson personally flew to Philadelphia to apologize to the men and thank them for their “willingness to reconcile”. Additionally, the company will be closing all American stores on May 29th so they can give unconscious racial bias training to their 175,000 employees.
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