#DumpStarbucks goes viral after Starbucks barista tells police to leave store because a customer ‘did not feel safe’

The term DumpStarbucks, or #DumpStarbucks, was seen spiking on social media Saturday afternoon, amid reports that a Starbucks in Tempe, Ariz., asked local law enforcement to leave an area store on Thursday because a customer felt uncomfortable with police presence.

Six police officers on the Fourth of July were reportedly urged to vacate a Starbucks at Scottsdale Road in Tempe by an employee because a customer “did not feel safe,” according to several news outlets and an account by the local police association.

In response, the Tempe Officers Association submitted the following via Twitter on July 5: “Don’t appreciate @Starbucks asking our #Tempe cops to leave your establishment on the #4thofjuly2019. Several of those cops are #veterans who fought for this country! #ZeroRespect”

In a series of subsequent tweets, the TOA said that a Starbucks Inc. SBUX, +0.00% employee: “asked the officers to move out of the customer’s line of sight or to leave,” and explained the incident thusly:

A Starbucks spokesperson told a Fox news affiliate, FOX 10: We have a deep respect for the Tempe Police and their service to the community. We’ve reached out to the Tempe Police Department and Tempe Officers Association to better understand what happened and apologize. We want everyone in our stores to feel welcomed and the incident described is not indicative of what we want any of our customers to feel in our stores.”

The episode comes more than a year after Starbucks’s shut down some 8,000 stores to conduct antibias training. The closures were prompted at least partly by a viral video of two black men, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, being handcuffed and removed by at least six police officers from a Philadelphia Starbucks. The men said they were waiting for a business associate and were in their right to remain at the coffee vendor.

The antibias training in May of 2018 was intended to help staffers at stores clarify how baristas and managers interact with all would-be customers.

About 175,000 employees at Starbucks stores and at its headquarters received paid training that focused on “understanding prejudice and the history of public accommodations in the United States,” according to CEO Kevin Johnson.

The July 4 incident with police has elicited a range of reactions on Twitter from those supporting area law enforcement to those applauding the barista:

Here’s one tweet supporting the officers:

Here’s another tweet referencing the April incident where the pair of black men were handcuffed:

Shares of Starbucks have been on a tear lately, rising 36% so far this year and handily outperforming the broader market, according to FactSet data as of Friday’s close.

By comparison, the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.16% has gained 15.4% so far in 2019, the S&P 500 index SPX, -0.18% has climbed 19.3% in the year to date, and the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, -0.10% has advanced 23% over the same period.

Neither Tempe officer representatives nor Starbucks were immediately available for comment.

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