ShareThis Page
Pennsylvania

Philly police get new trespass rules after Starbucks arrests

| Friday, June 8, 2018, 12:24 p.m.
Philadelphia police form a line in front of the Starbucks that was at the center of a Black Lives Matter protest on Sunday, April 15, 2018. Two black men were arrested Thursday after Starbucks employees called police to say the men were trespassing. The arrest prompted accusations of racism on social media. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson posted a lengthy statement Saturday night, calling the situation 'disheartening' and that it led to a 'reprehensible' outcome.
Michael Bryant / The Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia police form a line in front of the Starbucks that was at the center of a Black Lives Matter protest on Sunday, April 15, 2018. Two black men were arrested Thursday after Starbucks employees called police to say the men were trespassing. The arrest prompted accusations of racism on social media. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson posted a lengthy statement Saturday night, calling the situation 'disheartening' and that it led to a 'reprehensible' outcome.

PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Police Department on Friday announced a new policy on how to confront people accused of trespassing on private property, two months after coming under fire for arresting two black men waiting for a colleague at a Starbucks.

Officers are now instructed to first attempt to de-escalate and mediate disturbances between property owners and accused offenders. Before an officer arrests someone, that person must understand he or she is not allowed on the property. The officer also must witness the person refusing to leave.

“While business owners may exclude persons from their establishments, they cannot misuse the authority of police officers in the process,” the policy says. “Such misuse may lead to a technically lawful arrest, but can create the appearance of improprieties on behalf of the officers and the Department.”

Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were arrested April 12 within minutes of arriving at Starbucks. A viral video of their arrest sparked national outrage and has led to policy changes at the world's largest coffeehouse chain, including unconscious bias training and a new policy that allows anyone to sit in its cafes or use its restrooms — even if they don't buy anything.

The men reached a settlement with Starbucks and the city last month. They were not prosecuted, and their arrest records have been expunged.

Philadelphia police also came under fire in the wake of the arrest for how the incident was handled, with critics questioning why the men were arrested so quickly for something many see as common practice at the coffee shops.

Police Commissioner Richard Ross initially defended his officers' handling of the encounter but later publicly apologized to the men in a somber press conference.

“We've made a lot of progress and will continue to do so as we explore and implement new practices that reflect the importance of diversity, public safety and accountability,” Ross said.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me