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Philly Police Commissioner Admits He Played a ‘Significant Role’ In Making Starbucks Incident ‘Worse’

The Philadelphia Police Commissioner who initially sided with police who arrested two Black men at a Starbucks last week is walking back his comments.

Richard Ross said at a Thursday, April 19 press conference that he made things worse by defending the officers who arrived on the scene in the incident that led to calls of a boycott of the national coffee chain. Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson had been waiting for two minutes at the restaurant for a business meeting when a manager called 911 and accused them of trespassing.

“I fully acknowledge that I played a significant role in making [it] worse,” he says. “For starters, I should have said the officers acted within the scope of the law, and not that they didn’t do anything wrong. Words are very important.”

He added that his lack of awareness of Starbuck’s policy played a part in his initial stance, which he disclosed on Facebook Live on Saturday, April 14.

In the nearly seven-minute video, Ross basically excused Philadelphia police of any wrongdoing and pointed to an example of a uniformed sergeant visiting Starbucks and not being granted restroom access. He said that demonstrated the restaurant is “at least consistent with their policy.”

In today’s statement, Ross said it is a widespread belief that patrons visiting Starbucks long term may not necessarily buy anything but that he was unaware of that. He added it was “reasonable to believe that the officers didn’t know it either.”

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