In a widely circulated video of the incident, at least two people who were present verbally defended the two men and questioned why they were being arrested and handcuffed.
“This is ridiculous,” said one white man to a police officer in the video. “What did they get called for? Because there were two black guys sitting here meeting me? What did they do?”
“They didn’t do anything, I saw the entire thing,” a woman can be heard saying. At least five police officers were present during the arrest, the video shows.
Police have not named the men, and the pair’s attorney, Lauren A. Wimmer, also declined to name them “at this time.”
The two men had gone to the Starbucks to meet Andrew Yaffe, the white man who can be seen in the video questioning the police officers, according to Wimmer.
Yaffe could not immediately be reached for comment, but Wimmer told BuzzFeed News he is a friend of the two men. He runs a real estate development, investment, and management firm, and the men were meeting with him “to discuss potential residential and commercial real estate opportunities in Philadelphia,” she said.
The two men had not ordered immediately upon arriving, as they were still waiting for Yaffe. While they waited for him, “a white female manager who was on duty at the time” asked them to leave, said Wimmer.
When they said they were just waiting for another person to arrive before ordering, she phoned the police, Wimmer said.
“How many times have we sat in Starbucks minding our own business, waiting for a friend to come, and then we order?” Wimmer said.
When Yaffe arrived and found the two men being arrested, he called Wimmer, whom he is also friends with, she said.
The two men were arrested around 5:30 p.m., and were fingerprinted and photographed by police.
Police told Wimmer they had arrested the men for “defiant trespassing.”
Especially we white folks, we’re conditioned by institutionally racist political and economic structures into a sense of ethnic superiority. Prejudice and the ideology of discrimination seek to embed themselves at a sub-rational level: the level of uneasiness, uncertainty, fear and revulsion.
Holier-than-thou liberals will deny it if you ask them, because they see racial politics as a matter of performative self-ablution - ‘what? No! Some of my best friends are black…’ - but if we really want to destroy racism, we cannot simply limit our ruthless critique to racist police chiefs and discriminatory voting laws.
Smashing racism is a dialectic process: in shaping the institutions around us, we shape ourselves - and internal psychological struggle is just as valid an aspect to that revolutionary process.