Starbucks will close 8,000 US stores May 29 for racial-bias training

SEATTLE — Starbucks says it will close its 8,000 company-owned stores in the United States on May 29 to educate employees about racial bias.

The announcement follows an uproar over the arrest of two black men who were waiting for a friend at a Philadelphia Starbucks last week.

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson called the arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia store last week “reprehensible” and promised to take action so that it doesn’t happen again.

A store manager called the police because the two men were sitting in the store without placing an order. They were arrested for trespassing. The customers said they were waiting for another man to arrive. That person arrived at the store as they were being arrested.

On Good Morning America Monday, Johnson declined to say whether the manager would face discipline, declining to “point blame.”

“My responsibility is to look not only at that individual but to look more broadly at the circumstances that set that up, to ensure that this never happens again,” he said.

Johnson said there would be more training for staff on the issue of “unconscious bias.”

“I’ve been very focused on understanding what guidelines and what training ever let this happen,” he said. “What happened was wrong and we will fix it.”

Johnson had already posted apologies on the company’s website. He said the company wanted to “express our deepest apologies to the two men who were arrested with a goal of doing whatever we can to make things right.” He said he hoped to meet with the two men in person to make a face-to-face apology. He was in Philadelphia on Monday when he conducted the interview on Good Morning America.