Rashon Nelson, a former Bloomsburg University student, has been identified as one of the black men arrested at a Starbucks in Philadelphia on Apr. 12 for sitting at the establishment and not buying anything. Click here to listen to the 9-1-1 phone call.
@Starbucks The police were called because these men hadn’t ordered anything. They were waiting for a friend to show up, who did as they were taken out in handcuffs for doing nothing. All the other white ppl are wondering why it’s never happened to us when we do the same thing. pic.twitter.com/0U4Pzs55Ci
— Melissa DePino (@missydepino) April 12, 2018
The video of the arrest has since gone viral and created public outrage due to the racist overtones. Many white customers such as twitter user Sean (seen below) frequent the establishment “for hours on end… waiting around and not ordering a thing,” and are outraged that two black men got arrested for doing the same thing.
The amount of times I’ve sat in Starbucks for hours on end charging my phone, drinking water, and waiting around not ordering a thing is too many to count. But these guys get arrested for only sitting.#BoycottStarbucks
— Dirty Sean (@The_DirtySean) April 15, 2018
Quickly, the hashtag #BoycottStarbucks was trending.
So apparently sitting while black in Starbucks will get you arrested even though there are many white people who just go there and sit for hours with no one calling the cops. 🤔😤
— Nicole 🌊🌊🌊 (@MzDivah67) April 15, 2018
Nelson was a student at BU from 2012 up until fall semester of 2016 and majored in finance, according to Tom McGuire, Director of Media Relations and Content Strategy. Nelson is also a member of the Eta Mu Nu Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc.
Members of Nelson’s fraternity have surrounded him in support following this viral incident. 40th Grand Basileus Tony Knox released a statement of support for Nelson. Knox described Nelson as “a remarkable example of resilient courage in the face of undeserved fire.”
— Omega Psi Phi (@OfficialOPPF) April 16, 2018
Both men were later released without charges being filed.
In a press release on Tuesday, Starbucks announced that they would be closing over 8,000 of their US company-owned stores on May 29 to “conduct racial-bias education geared toward preventing discrimination in our stores.”
“Closing our stores for racial bias training is just one step in a journey that requires dedication from every level of our company and partnerships in our local communities,” explained Kevin Johnson, CEO of Starbucks.
BUnow will continue to give updates on this story as more information is revealed.