Two Black men who were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks last week have finally opened up about the experience that left them in handcuffs and stirred a national conversation about unconscious bias.
Rashon Nelson and his business partner, Donte Robinson, who’ve known each other since the fourth grade, told the Associated Press that they didn’t pay too much attention when they were told that the bathroom was for paying customers, or when they were asked if they needed help as they waited for a third gentleman for a business meeting.
It wasn’t until they noticed cops enter the coffee shop that they knew the situation had escalated.
“That’s when we knew she called the police on us,” Nelson told the AP.
@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
“We were there for a real reason, a real deal that we were working on,” Robinson said. “We put in a lot of time, energy, effort. … We were at a moment that could have a positive impact on a whole ladder of people, lives, families. So I was like, ‘No, you’re not stopping that right now.’”
The nerve-racking experience made the two reflect on their loved ones and if they’d walk away from the experience alive.
“Anytime I’m encountered by cops, I can honestly say it’s a thought that runs through my mind,” Nelson said. “You never know what’s going to happen.”
On Thursday, the two spoke to Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts about their ordeal and how to move forward with it.
“I want to make sure this situation doesn’t happen again,” Robinson said on GMA. “What I want is for young men not to be traumatized by this, to be motivated, inspired.”
Check out the full interview with Robin Roberts below.
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Teddy is a multimedia journalist who serves as the culture and political writer for EBONY. His work has appeared in NBC's Owned and Operated stations, as well as DNAInfo, which covered local neighborhood news in New York City. He received his Masters in Journalism from the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY in 2017.