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One year later: A timeline of controversy and progress since the Starbucks arrests seen 'round the world

Anna Orso, on

Published in News & Features

PHILADELPHIA -- It's been a year since two black men were handcuffed and arrested by Philadelphia Police for sitting in a Starbucks without purchasing something, sparking international outrage and a reckoning for one of the country's most visible brands.

It was a moment seen 'round the world. After a video of the arrest of Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson went viral on Twitter, weeks of protests at the Starbucks location at 18th and Spruce Streets followed, as did an apology tour by Starbucks leadership and nationwide racial-bias training for the company's 175,000 employees.

Since then, a lot has happened in Philadelphia for the Seattle-based coffee giant.

Here's a look back at a year of problems, promises, and even some progress.

April 12, 2018

Melissa DePino posts a video of the arrest on Twitter, showing police arresting Nelson and Robinson. The video quickly gains traction on Twitter. (A year later, it has more than 11 million views.) The men are not charged with a crime.


April 14, 2018

International furor mounts. Mayor Jim Kenney releases a statement saying the incident "appears to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018." Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross says on Facebook "officers did not do anything wrong."

Prominent Philadelphia activist Asa Khalif leads a protest at the Starbucks location, demanding the person who called police be fired. The public later learns the manager who called police and the company parted ways.

April 17, 2018


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