The Philadelphia Police Department announced that it will change the way officers handle trespassing calls after a debacle in which two men were arrested in a Center City Starbucks café for possession of blackness with intent to exist.
In April, Starbucks employee Holly Hilton alerted police officers to the presence of Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, two black men who were at the Philadelphia Starbucks engaged in terrorist activities like minding their own business and dangerously exposing their black skin to customers. Their subsequent arrest for trespassing prompted protests, media attention and a nationwide day of racial-bias training where the coffee giant solved racism in one day.
It turns out, according to 911 logs and Uniform Crime Reports, that this was a regular occurrence at this particular Starbucks. In 2016, before Hylton was hired, police received two calls from the previously mentioned location. After Hylton’s arrival in 2017, 28 of Starbucks’ 41 calls that year were for “disorderly crowds.”
On Friday, officials from the Philadelphia Police Department unveiled a new policy that calls requires officers to “attempt to de-escalate and mediate the disturbance” between property owners and people accused of trespassing. In addition, the new mandate requires cops to ask for a police supervisor at the scene “to avoid misuse of police authority by business owners and the appearance of any impropriety by the officers.”
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According to KIVI-TV, the new guidelines require that anyone accused of trespassing must “know and understand” that they are barred from the property and will not be subject to arrest unless they defy an order to leave in the presence of police. In addition, the property owner must sign papers stating that they intend to prosecute the person charged with the violation.
An internal investigation by the Police Department found that the officers did not violate state law by arresting Nelson and Robinson during the April event. While that may seem strange, the word of one white woman over two black men has long-standing legal and social precedence.
“Yup,” said Emmett Till.