LOCAL REACTION: Starbucks closes 8,000 stores for diversity training


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — Tuesday afternoon, Starbucks closed more than 8,000 stores across the country in wake of the recent controversy in Philadelphia.

Many have turned away disappointed, not realizing that Starbucks closed its doors to customers after 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. But for The multi-billion-dollar company, discussing racial bias and discrimination with their employees is far more important than losing those customers.

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On April 12, a manager at a Philadelphia Starbucks called the police on two black men who were sitting at a table waiting for a friend.

They were arrested for trespassing, since they had not purchased anything.

The incident has sparked national debate, and Tuesday, Starbucks temporarily closed all its corporately-owned locations for diversity training.

“I think it is a smart move,” customer Andrea Hawthorne said. “All employees should know what is required from Starbucks, and they should treat everyone equally. It could have happened to any one of us.”

Hawthorne says she did not want to give Starbucks her business after the April incident.

“I did not feel like I should come back here,” she said. “But seeing the Starbucks is doing all this, going out of its way to train their employees, I’m hoping that things will be better.”

Others who frequent the Hamilton Place Starbucks say they would never expect this to happen at their Starbucks.

“I thought it was outrageous,“ Chattanooga customer Pendell Meyers said. “But I would assume it’s probably isolated, though. I wouldn’t think that would happen here.”

Some customers believe Chattanooga’s Starbucks doesn’t need the diversity training.

“At this particular Starbucks, it doesn’t matter what race you are because I see all nationalities,” Bill Belva said.

Belva believes everyone should be taught to see people equally, not just the employees at Starbucks.

“I think that we have to get back to a time period in which we treat each person as they are and we’re not overly sensitive to everything that comes along,” he added.

All Starbucks stores will reopen normally Wednesday.

The company’s executive chairman, Howard Schultz, says he hopes this will be the beginning of a new chapter for Starbucks.

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Angela joined the News 12 team in November of 2017 as the weekend sports anchor and reporter. Angela is a proud member of an Army family, which means she has hometowns all over the Eastern Seaboard. Most recently, she calls Peachtree City, Georgia, home, where she graduated from Trinity Christian School and spent her free time driving her purple golf cart. She then headed to Milledgeville, Georgia, to attend Georgia College and State University. A proud Bobcat, Angela graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BA in Mass Communication and represented her December 2016 class as one of three valedictorians. Angela comes to the Scenic City from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where she worked at the NBC affiliate, WMBF News. Before the big move, she worked as Georgia College's Sports Information Assistant, which let her get paid to be the Bobcats' biggest fan. It all started in Savannah, Georgia, though, where she interned for SAV's number one station, WTOC. When she's not working, you can find Angela watching the New York Giants, Rangers or basically any other game that's on. She also loves traveling, hiking and exploring new places, all with her camera in hand. If you have any story ideas, big or small, feel free to reach out to her on Facebook and Twitter, or email her at amoryan@wdef.com."