The Events At Starbucks Store # 314 Are Part Of A Terrifying Trend
I read a terrifying story on Facebook today. Danisha Jefferson-Abye posted a story about Jordan Collins’, the manager of Starbucks Store # 314 who called the police on a perfectly nice Black neuro-atypical male customer. Jefferson-Abye wrote,
“He gave me a warm smile and scooted over toward the table where he had the two cups of coffee he was drinking. The man was experiencing uncontrollable body ticks, and was intermittently mumbling to himself a bit, but there was nothing about him that appeared threatening, or caused me to question sitting down next to him in close quarters. There was another woman who sat on the other side of him while she worked on her computer. Over the course of about 45 minutes where I worked beside him, there were moments where he would stand up and then sit back down. I heard him place a phone call to someone and speak in a kind voice to them. I saw him order another cup of coffee and go through some paperwork from his bag. I saw him hold a paper with a symbol on it to his head while he muttered quietly to himself. I spoke to him a second time, when I needed to reach next to him to plug my computer in next to his phone. To which he obliged me kindly as well.
At one point when he was standing, a store employee, who I now know as Mr. J. Collins, approached him. He said to him, “Excuse me sir, you can stay here, as long as you are not standing up or making other people feel uncomfortable. You have to sit down, you can’t pace in the store.” The man I now know as Nathan, said in a confused tone “Oh, I wasn’t pacing, but ok. I’ll sit down.” He continued in a very professional, non-confrontational, calm, tone “Can you please tell me who the store manager is?” To which Mr. J. Collins, also in a non-confrontational tone replied, “I’m the store manager, but do you want someone over me?” Nathan replied, “Yes, please.” Mr J. Collins then went to the back and brought him out a business card. They were both we very casual and cordial to one another and Nathan thanked him. I was impressed by this interaction even though, I didn’t find Nathan to be making anyone feel uncomfortable nor was he pacing around the store. I figured the manager had a poor choice of words/rationale, but that what he really wanted was for this black, mentally handicapped man to not draw attention to himself. The customer, Nathan, agreed to sit, so I figured the employee should be happily satisfied.
A few minutes later, I’m interrupted by police over my shoulder, introducing themselves to the other customer. They said that they had been called to ask him to leave and asked him if he understood what it meant to be trespassed from the business. Nathan introduced himself, gave his date of birth, willingly gathered his things and peacefully followed the police outside of the front door where they talked with him further. Mr. Collins went out and talked with them and returned inside. I couldn’t make sense of why this paying customer had just been criminalized for no apparent reason.”
When she asked why he did that, the manager gaslit her.
UPDATE: The same thing just happened in Philadelphia. Only this time, A White woman recorded the incident. She also happened to be an author, which gave her some agency. And I’m grateful to her. Because without accomplices in the struggle to end White Supremacy, nothing will change. But, take a moment to acknowledge that until a White woman tells out story, no one can really hear it.
Okay. You’re probably wondering why I’m all riled up about some Starbucks on the other side of the country and the other side of the state. It’s because this is larger than some implicit bias ruining someone’s day. I’m starting to see a disturbing trend. (Yes, this is one of those times when my #TinfoilLinedKenteClothHat is pulled down tight over my ears. ) The ugly trend I am seeing is the manner in which White people use their knowledge about the reality of police in the lives of Black people.
There is a rresurgence of White people casually deploying their local police departments as personal weapons. For us to occupy space without taking their desires, requests or requirements into consideration is an affront. When a Black person asserts some small amount of independent humanity they retaliate by calling the police.
There are other cases besides what happened at Starbuck Store 314 and the one in Philadelphia. (John Crawford (Target) and Chris Lollie(Mall Of America) come to mind. ) I will not Google more cases for you. Why? Because this same kind of exploitation of the police as a personalized military force happened to me recently.
I had parked my car in a Fed Ex/Kinkos spot in Squirrel Hill. (Yes, I was an asshole. I was having a Lets-Be-Becky Day.) I was going to dash in and pick up my mobile phone order from Starbucks. A White man came racing out of the FedEx Kinkos yelling, “you can’t park here.” I turned, smiled and opened my mouth to speak. But, he just kept screaming at me.
I tried speaking, “Well, I’m…” But, he just kept yelling, “You can’t park here. You can’t park here. You can’t park here.” Clearly, he had no interest in dialogue. So, I cocked my head to one side, looked at him, smiled and walked away.
I took the chance because I knew with the mobile app, I would beat the tow truck. I was right. I was in and out of the Starbuck in less than five minutes. I came back and he had a pen and paper taking down my license plate number. Fair enough. he had every right to call a tow truck. But, so what? If I was no longer there, it would be a wasted call.
As I headed to my car, he moved to block me. I smiled and kept walking towards him with my coffee in hand. I unlocked my car. He moved out of my way. At this point, he began yelling, “I called the police on you. I called the police! I called the police and they are coming for you.”
The more I smiled, the more enraged he became. I got in my car. He’s still screaming about the police. My heart was racing. Inwardly, was terrified. The only crime I had committed was the crime of Trying-On-Becky’s-Dress-While-Black. And in this country today, that is a death sentence.
I took back roads out of Squirrel Hill whilst hoping no police cruiser would spot my vehicle and pull me over. Who knew? Maybe he had called the police. Maybe they were looking for an arrogant Black Bitch In Stolen Becky Clothes. I fit the description. No. I was guilty. Finally, as I got close to home, my heart stopped racing.
In the quiet morning, sipping my delicious 6-Shot Venti Mocha with a pump of Cinnamon Dolce, I realized what he had done. He was using the police department as his personal weapon.
He was enraged because I — a Black woman — did not submit to his authority. Not only did I not submit, I was bold and defiant about not submitting. I did not apologize. I did not argue. I did not negotiate. I did not beg. I took what I wanted with a smile on my face and a sureness to my step and he wanted to kill me for that.
That would be the only reason to call the police. And he knew it. So, this Starbucks Manager… he’s part of this trend.
And if we don’t stop it. Someone will die.
Join me in talking to Starbucks about the danger of employing these people. Click the link, write and call. #DeleteStarbucksApp #BoycottStarbucks. More importantly, when you call, 1) demand sensitivity training for all Starbucks employees. 2) Demand the firing of Jordan Collins and the Philadelphia employees. 3) Demand compensation for whatever therapy is needeed for the viictims of these incidents.
I can’t return to a Starbucks … any Starbucks … until I am assured of my safety.