ROCHESTER, Minn. – A local organization is using an incident involving a well-known coffee chain from two weeks ago as a talking point.
Two black men were arrested in a Philadelphia Starbucks for not making a purchase and refusing to leave. They say they were waiting for a friend.
Dee Sabol, the executive director of the Diversity Council, said racism can happen anywhere. That’s why they’re hosting a discussion.
Community members filled the pews in the Rochester Community Baptist Church to listen to a panel of three people in order to hear different perspectives.
Mary Ann Schultz drove from Spring Valley to be a part of the conversation and said it’s one that should be had across all communities.
“If we talk and get information and aren't afraid of the answers,” Schultz said, “I would like everyone not to be afraid.”
John Sherwin, the interim police chief, was part of the panel. He said in a complaint-based system, it’s challenging for law enforcement to know the motive behind a person calling.
“Are they calling simply because of a bias against someone? Or is it something more? Are they calling about actions that may be against the law or other perspectives? And as law enforcement,” Sherwin said, “it's our job upon arrival to figure those things out.”
Starbucks said it will close more than 8,000 stores on May 29 to conduct bias training for their employees.