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Posted under: Race & Identity News

Men At The Center Of Starbucks Scandal Speak Out To Lay Out The Facts, Make Demands For Next Steps

The brothers are calling for change.

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The two men at the center of the national Starbucks controversy are speaking out about their April 12 arrest that has sparked a boycott of the coffee chain. 

On Thursday morning, Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson sat down with “Good Morning America” to explain what went down prior to the viral video showing the two men being arrested by Philadelphia police. 

The men said they went to a Starbucks in downtown Philadelphia last week to meet a friend about a real estate project they’d been working on.

Upon entering the shop, Nelson asked to use the restroom and was told the bathrooms were for paying customers. He did not press the employee further. Instead, he took a seat with Robinson. 

When an employee came to their table and asked if she could get them some drinks or possibly water, the two already had bottled water with them. Robinson assured her they were only waiting for their friend and would leave quickly. According to the timestamp of the 911 call, police were phoned shortly after they entered. This was not enough time for them to order anything. Police arrived and told the pair they had to leave. 

Robinson told GMA that he was not read any rights, and police did not explain why they arrested them. 

Customers have threatened to boycott Starbucks since video of the incident has gone viral, and CEO Kevin Johnson announced that 8,000 stores would be closed for an afternoon for diversity training. Johnson has spoken with Robinson and Nelson and Starbucks executives in the Philly area to address this issue.  

The two said it's still difficult to process what happened that day. 

“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 said. 

Nelson reminded GMA viewers that at the heart of this situation is America's longtime history of racism toward black people, and that history can no longer be ignored.  

“Take this opportunity as a steppingstone 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," he said. 

"This has been something that has been going on for years,” Nelson continued. “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.”
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Atlanta-based creative, dope photographer, journalist and lover of the wing ding.