Update: This post, which first appeared April 18, 2018, was removed then reposted because of a technical issue.
Q: Technology and social movements may help address profiling issues in the consumer marketplace, you noted. Recently, cell phone video went viral after the controversial arrest and jailing of two minority men sitting at a Philadelphia Starbuck’s. They were later released without charge. What do you think about this incident and how else might technology put an end to such incidents?
A: The term loitering is often defined in vague terms in many jurisdictions. Black’s law dictionary is one example that underscores the issue.
The men were sitting quietly for 15 minutes, according to witnesses. The Starbucks worker’s exchange with the men, prior to calling the police (Nestel), suggests anger is evident. Details in The Washington Post provides further clues as to why the situation escalated.
Some might argue that the call to police was racial bias and also a power play.
I would not disagree. The men were later released from jail because Starbucks declined to press charges. One wonders what charges would have applied in this case.
If store owners are concerned with customers who sit for long periods without buying (CNN), then if ordinances permit, management should consider posting at every table a courteous, humorous, and effective policy guideline enforced equally for all people.
Cell phone technology and social media captured and exposed the incident. But Virtual Reality may be an effective tool to educate those who never experience racial bias.
Handcuffing of 2 Black men in a Starbucks
called repressible outcome by CEO
Comedian, CNN commentator
W. Kamau Bell recalls
being kicked out of coffee shop
The Washington Post.com
Starbucks to close 8,000 Starbucks
for racial bias education
The men arrested in Philadelphia
Coffeeshop speak out