PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - Dozens of people returned to the Philadelphia Starbucks where the arrest of two black men went viral. They had a message for anyone willing to listen.
The demonstration was organized by the fraternity that one of the arrested men is a member of. The organizers said this was a rally, not a protest. They want to keep the issue alive while calling attention to other incidents of racism and injustice against black men and women.
"We won’t accept anything less than civil rights, equal rights, equal justice, due process of the law and fair treatment," said civil rights attorney Ben Crump. He attended the rally by members of Omega Psi Phi fraternity outside Starbucks at 18th and Spruce Sunday afternoon in support of the two men arrested there in a video that went viral.
"My skin color does not make me a criminal. It's got to be clear," said fraternity member Terrence Jenkins. One of the men arrested, Rashon Nelson, is a member of Omega Psi Phi.
"We decided to come out to show our young brother that he has friends out here and that's what we are," said Jenkins. Organizers stood before dozens of people including members of the community who stopped to listen. One man not originally on the program asked to speak about his experience at Starbucks. He says he loiters all the time while on his phone, reading or writing and without buying anything.
"No employee ever bothered me. Cops never came and arrested me for doing that and I never really paid it a second thought until last weekend when this incident happened," he said. He called for unity to try and prevent this from happening again.
"It's important to acknowledge this white privilege we have because in doing so it acknowledges the inequality of the country and engages a sense of self responsibility,” he said to the crowd. Meanwhile some say Starbucks is taking steps to fix the problem but they still question whether it's enough.
"Starbucks has an opportunity and so far it appears that they're going to do the right thing. Even though it won't stop with one-day training. They're aware of that and it's going to have to continue," said Anthony Knox of Omega Psi Phi.
City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson helped organize the rally. He says the city is in continuous talks with Starbucks. The company said it will close doors May 29 for racial bias training.