The two Black businessmen at the center of discriminatory incident at a Philadelphia Starbucks are opening up about their disbelief they felt when police arrested them within minutes of their arrival.
In an interview with Good Morning America on Thursday, Rashon Nelson (above left) and Donte Robinson (above right) told Robin Roberts they were never told to leave or informed that the police were going to be called.
Nelson and Robinson said they were at Starbucks for a real estate meeting with a retired federal judge to discuss a project they’d been working on for months.
The two arrived at the Starbucks around 4:35 p.m.
“We're at the table, we sit down we're just talking amongst each other. She (former manager Holly Hylton) comes from around the register and walks up to ask if she can help us with anything, can we start with some drinks or water or something like that,” Robinson told GMA.
Robinson told Hylton they were waiting for a meeting and would be out in just a few minutes.
However, two minutes after the men arrived, Holly Hylton called 911, according to official records.
Nelson and Robinson said when three officers arrived they did not think they would be approached, especially considering Hylton never told them to leave.
“As soon as they approached us they just said we have to leave. There was no question of ‘was there a problem here between you and the manager?’” Nelson told GMA.
"We wasn't read any rights. Nothing, just double lock handcuffs behind our backs and escorted out and put in a squad car,” Robinson added.
The arrest was captured on a viral video, which resulted in outrage and calls for the manager who called police to be fired.
After much backlash, Holly Hylton left the company in what a Starbucks spokesperson called a “mutual” decision.
Sirius XM radio host Sylvia Alston said she hopes the money they potentially win in a civil suit is enough to cover the next three generations of Robinsons and Nelsons.
Starbucks released a statement Tuesday saying all 8,000 of its nationwide stores will shut down for a few hours May 29 for racial-bias education.
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said the company is “committed to being part of the solution,” and that this training “is just one step in a journey that requires dedication from every level of our company and partnerships in our local communities.”
Even Robinson and Nelson hope this incident can be a learning opportunity for people around the country.
When asked what they wanted to see come out of the situation the two men responded:
“I want to make sure that this situation doesn’t happen again so what I want [is] for a young man to not be traumatized by this, and instead motivated and inspired," Robinson told GMA.
Nelson said he hopes this instance inspires people of color to “take this opportunity as a stepping stone to really stand up and show your greatness and that you are not judged by the color of your skin as our ancestors were or anyone else. This has been something that has been going on for years. Everyone is blind to it but they know what is going on, if you get what I mean. You know, just really taking those actions and putting them in place and helping people understand that this is a people thing and that’s exactly what we want to see out of this. True change.”
(Photo: Good Morning America)
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