Cops Arrest 2 Black Men Sitting In Starbucks For ‘Trespassing’: Video


The Philadelphia DA’s Office said there was a “lack of evidence” that the men committed any crime.

A video showing Philadelphia police officers handcuffing and removing two black men from a Starbucks store has gone viral and incited allegations of racism, but the police commissioner insists his officers did “absolutely nothing wrong.”

Author Melissa DePino tweeted a video on Thursday showing officers escorting two black men out of a Starbucks in Center City as bystanders questioned why the men were being arrested.

“The police were called because these men hadn’t ordered anything,” DePino wrote on Twitter. “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.”

DePino told local news outlet Billy Penn that the incident happened around 4:30 p.m. Thursday and that a friend of hers shot the video. 

The clip shows a man in a vest questioning why an arrest is taking place. Lauren A. Wimmer, defense attorney for the pair who was arrested, told BuzzFeed that the man in the vest is Andrew Yaffe, a friend who was meeting the men at Starbucks. She declined to give the names of her two clients. 

“What did they get called for?” Yaffe asks an officer in the video. “’Cause there are two black guys sitting here meeting me?”

Another voice can be heard saying, “They didn’t do anything. I saw the entire thing.”

Wimmer told BuzzFeed that a white female manager at the store had asked the pair to leave when they came in and did not order anything. According to Wimmer, the men said they were waiting to meet someone, and the manager called the police. 

Philly Voice pointed to a second, longer video uploaded to YouTube that shows an officer telling Yaffe that the other two individuals were being arrested for “trespassing.” Yaffe calls what the officers are doing “discrimination.”

In an interview with Philly Magazine, DePino, who filmed the first video, said she was sitting “very close” to the two men.

She said a “girl behind the counter” had apparently called 911 before the cops arrived and told the men they were “trespassing.”

“They guys wanted to know what they did,” DePino told the magazine. “And then more cops and more cops and more cops show up.”

DePino said other customers in the store asked both the cops and the employee why the men were being arrested.

“And then they freaking put them in handcuffs and perp-walked them out the freaking store,” she told Philly Magazine. “These guys never raised their voices. They never did anything remotely aggressive.”

DePino also said she would not return to the Starbucks location in light of the arrest.

Ben Waxman, a spokesman for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, told HuffPost that the two men were released at 1:30 a.m. Friday. He said the DA will not bring charges against them.

“We declined to bring charges against the two men because there was a lack of evidence that a crime was committed,” Waxman said. 

The Philadelphia Police Department did not reply to a request for comment from HuffPost, but Police Commissioner Richard Ross said in a Facebook Live video posted Saturday afternoon that the officers “did absolutely nothing wrong.” They responded to the scene, he said, after receiving a 911 call reporting “a disturbance” and “trespassing.”

Starbucks employees told the responding officers that the two men had asked to use the restroom, Ross said. Employees said they told the pair that the restroom was only for paying customers and asked them to leave, and the pair allegedly refused. The men allegedly told the employees to go ahead and call the police.

According to Ross, police “politely” asked the pair to leave several times and they continued to refuse and behaved rudely toward the officers. The officers, he said, did everything right.

“They followed policy. They did what they were supposed to do. They were professional in all their dealings with these gentlemen,” the commissioner said.

“As an African-American man, I am very aware of implicit bias,” Ross added, noting that all officers in the police force receive “implicit bias training.” 

The video can be watched in full below:

When asked for comment from HuffPost, a Starbucks spokesman pointed to the company’s statements on Twitter.

“We apologize to the two individuals and our customers and are disappointed this led to an arrest,” Starbuck’s statement reads. “We take these matters seriously and clearly have more work to do when it comes to how we handle incidents in our stores.” The statement also said the company would be reviewing its policies.

Later Saturday, CEO Kevin Johnson apologized in a statement, saying the company has “begun a thorough investigation of our practices.” Johnson said he and the regional vice president plan to meet with Philadelphia community leaders and law enforcement and “hope to meet personally with the two men who were arrested.”

“Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did,” Johnson said in the statement.

Black Teen Nearly Shot After Knocking On Door Asking For Directions To School

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People are saying the 14-year-old boy’s near-death experience is what it means to be black in America.

When 14-year-old Brennan Walker missed his bus on Thursday morning and started walking to school, he thought knocking on a door to ask for directions would help. He didn’t think it would nearly get him shot.

The Rochester Hills, Michigan, teenager attempted to trace the bus route on foot after he said he woke up late and missed the bus. Brennan didn’t have a phone with him because his mother had taken it away as punishment, as moms of teens are wont to do, and he got lost along the way.

When he approached a house to ask for directions, he was met with a gun.

“I got to the house, and I knocked on the lady’s door. Then she started yelling at me and she was like, ‘Why are you trying to break into my house?’ I was trying to explain to her that I was trying to get directions to Rochester High,” Brennan told Fox 2 Detroit.

“And she kept yelling at me. Then the guy came downstairs, and he grabbed the gun. I saw it and started to run. And that’s when I heard the gunshot.” 

The man’s shot luckily missed Brennan.

“My mom says that black boys get shot because sometimes they don’t look their age, and I don’t look my age. I’m 14, but I don’t look 14. I’m kind of happy that, like, I didn’t become a statistic,” said Brennan. 

Local police said they could not justify what happened to the teenager.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard told Click on Detroit that the shooting was “completely unacceptable on every level.”

“I don’t know how you would justify it, but it certainly doesn’t pass the muster,” the sheriff said.

Brennan’s mother, Lisa Wright, wants the man who shot at her son to face charges and believes that what happened “definitely was a hate crime.” 

The house had a Ring doorbell, which according to Fox 2 Detroit recorded the incident. Investigators let Wright and her son see the video.

“One of the things that stands out, that probably angers me the most is, while I was watching the tape, you can hear the wife say, ‘Why did these people choose my house?’” Wright said.

“Who are ‘these people’? And that set me off. I didn’t want to believe it was what it appeared to look like. When I heard her say that, it was like, ‘But it is [what it looks like],’” the mother said.

Many on social media have remarked on what happened to Brennan, with some noting this is what it means to be black in America.

The man who shot at Brennan is currently in custody and expected to face charges.



The Importance of Free Press in a Democracy

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Before we can understand the importance of a free press in a democracy, we need to grasp what it means to have a free press. The Cambridge Dictionary tells us that a free press allows all media outlets to express whatever opinions they desire. That means, it says, that they are enabled to criticize the government and other organizations. So why would that be relevant in a democracy?

The answer seems pretty simple to us. A democracy is defined as a belief in equality and freedom amongst the people within it that is governed by a system that upholds that belief. So, if democracy is about freedom, then a free press is necessary to ensure that those freedoms remain intact. Any censorship on behalf of those with biased interests takes away the core of democracy.

Al Gore writes in his book, The Assault on Reason, that when the media forum is controlled, specifically by those with money, it limits good ideas created by those who cannot afford access. Specifically, he states, "when their opinions are blocked, the meritocracy of ideas that has always been the beating heart of democratic theory begins to suffer damage."

This is not to say that the rich are always the main problem in protecting and ensuring the existence of a free press. In truth, people will always avoid saying and presenting things that go against their own self interests. That is why it is so important for media outlets to employ people on both sides of a position and to give them the same amount of air time or written space. People cannot be informed fully if only one side of an argument is ever presented at length.

When the public is constantly exposed to liberal thoughts, and conservative positions are derided if even exposed, the marketplace of ideas is greatly hindered and twisted. The same is true when only conservative positions are presented without any counter balanced progressive input. As this occurs, we see people negating what was accomplished in 1787 when some of the most influential thinkers and individuals of the time converged on Philadelphia to ensure that this democracy was ruled by the people. The government should never be an entity that rules over them, according to the first words of the Constitution, "We the people".

That is why everything got divided into a checks and balances system. The Founding Fathers knew the human propensity towards issues of control. Absolute authority had to be hindered, and as long as this democracy has a free press, it can be. People must have access to the facts and to the truth. They have to be fully informed. Free press was included in the first constitutional amendment because it is critical to the maintenance of the dream that is America. The populace must be able to trust that the news they receive is revealing all sides, not just one agenda.

When a free press works as it should, it is a watchdog that protects the people it serves by keeping businesses, organizations, and the government under restraint. There is no other institution that has greater access to those in power than the media. They are there to uncover and reveal corruption no matter who will be affected by the truth. The truth is what has kept this democracy strong and a free press is the foundation it rests on. 

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MLK’s Funeral: Rare Photos

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was laid to rest in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 9, 1968, five days after his assassination at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. Many of those attending King’s memorial service and his funeral were, of course, nationally known ― activists, preachers, politicians, artists, athletes and others who had been by King’s side at countless marches and rallies through the years. But many, many more of the tens of thousands who lined Atlanta’s streets or walked behind the mule-drawn casket were “average” Americans: men, women, and children who came from around Atlanta and around the country to pay their final respects, in person, to a man who gave his life in the struggle for freedom, justice, and peace.

Here, in rarely seen pictures from the private service at King’s own Ebenezer Baptist Church and from the far larger public memorial afterward at his alma mater, Morehouse College, FOTO offers a portrait of that day ― a profile of a community in mourning, and yet unbowed.

Coretta Scott King (1927 - 2006) listens to one of the speakers at the public memorial for her slain husband in Atlanta, April 9, 1968.

In a tribute to women of the Civil Rights Movement, Joy Reid reminded FOTO that Coretta Scott King once “had ordinary dreams of being a famous entertainer, and instead she became the mother of the movement. She had to navigate being a mom, explaining to four little kids why the threat of death constantly surrounded them. She had to be MLK’s voice when he was gone, and she did it regally, and with depth.”

Robert F. Kennedy outside of Ebenezer Baptist Church, where the first memorial of the day was held for Dr. King.

Less than two months later, Robert Kennedy himself was killed in Los Angeles by a Jerusalem-born assassin named Sirhan Sirhan, who today is serving a life sentence at a prison in southern California. Other prominent figures at both the private and public memorials included Sammy Davis, Jr., Jackie Kennedy, Mahalia Jackson, Marlon Brando, Eartha Kitt, Wilt Chamberlain, Thurgood Marshall, Sidney Poitier, Nelson Rockefeller, and many more.

Actor, singer, and activist Harry Belafonte (center), his wife, Julie Robinson (left), and his son, David (seated in front of Belafonte), at the public memorial for Dr. King at Morehouse College.

Long one of the most high-profile and vocal celebrity activists in the U.S., Harry Belafonte supported the Civil Rights Movement from its earliest days, and was deeply involved in many of its signature events, from the Freedom Rides in the Deep South to the March on Washington in 1963.

Andrew Young speaking at the public memorial for Dr. King at Morehouse College.
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Andrew Young was the executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC); marched in (and was arrested in) many of the signature protests of the era; and was in Memphis with King when the civil rights leader was murdered. Young went on to serve in Congress; was twice elected mayor of Atlanta; has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom; and in his mid-80s remains active in progressive causes.

Part of the crowd of tens of thousands who marched in MLK’s funeral procession in Atlanta.

Of the service at Ebenezer Baptist, James Baldwin wrote in an essay for Esquire magazine that it “sort of washed over me, in waves. It wasn’t that it seemed unreal; it was the most real church service I’ve ever sat through in my life, or ever hope to sit through; but I have a childhood hangover thing about not weeping in public, and I was concentrating on holding myself together. I did not want to weep for Martin, tears seemed futile.”

An overhead shot of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s casket, during the procession from Ebenezer Baptist Church to Morehouse College.

“As we came out [of the church] and I looked up the road,” Baldwin wrote, “I saw them. They were all along the road, on either side, they were on all the roofs, on either side … and they stood in silence. It was the silence that undid me. I started to cry, and I stumbled, and Sammy [Davis Jr.] grabbed my arm. We started to walk.”

Onlookers crowding a rooftop in Atlanta on the day of MLK’s funeral.



‘Martin Luther King Jr.’s Unfinished Work on Earth Must Truly Be Our Own’

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Five days after King was assassinated, his “spiritual mentor” Benjamin Mays delivered a eulogy for his former student.

Benjamin Mays was the president of Morehouse College, in Atlanta, while Martin Luther King Jr. was a student there, and the two became friends. King considered Mays his “spiritual mentor” and “intellectual father.” Mays was 70 years old—no longer the college’s president but a civil-rights leader—when he delivered King’s eulogy, at Morehouse, on April 9, 1968. It was later published in Born to Rebel: An Autobiography, by the University of Georgia Press.

To be honored by being requested to give the eulogy at the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is like being asked to eulogize a deceased son—so close and so precious was he to me. Our friendship goes back to his student days at Morehouse College. It is not an easy task; nevertheless, I accept it, with a sad heart, and with full knowledge of my inadequacy to do justice to this man. It was my desire that if I pre-deceased Dr. King he would pay tribute to me on my final day. It was his wish that if he pre-deceased me I would deliver the homily at his funeral. Fate has decreed that I eulogize him. I wish it might have been otherwise, for, after all, I am three score years and ten and Martin Luther is dead at thirty-nine.

Benjamin Mays (Larry Burrows / The Life Picture Collection / Getty)

Although there are some who rejoice in his death, there are millions across the length and breadth of this world who are smitten with grief that this friend of mankind—all mankind—has been cut down in the flower of his youth. So multitudes here and in foreign lands, queens, kings, heads of governments, the clergy of the world, and the common man every-where are praying that God will be with the family, the American people, and the President of the United States in this tragic hour. We hope that this universal concern will bring comfort to the family—for grief is like a heavy load: when shared it is easier to bear. We come today to help the family carry the load.

We have assembled here from every section of this great nation and from other parts of the world to give thanks to God that he gave to America, at this moment in history, Martin Luther King Jr. Truly God is no respecter of persons. How strange! God called the grandson of a slave on his father’s side, and the grandson of a man born during the Civil War on his mother’s side, and said to him: Martin Luther, speak to America about war and peace; about social justice and racial discrimination; about its obligation to the poor; and about nonviolence as a way of perfecting social change in a world of brutality and war.

Here was a man who believed with all of his might that the pursuit of violence at any time is ethically and morally wrong; that God and the moral weight of the universe are against it; that violence is self-defeating; and that only love and forgiveness can break the vicious circle of revenge. He believed that nonviolence would prove effective in the abolition of in-justice in politics, in economics, in education, and in race relations. He was convinced also that people could not be moved to abolish voluntarily the in-humanity of man to man by mere persuasion and pleading, but that they could be moved to do so by dramatizing the evil through massive nonviolent resistance. He believed that nonviolent direct action was necessary to supplement the nonviolent victories won in federal courts. He believed that the nonviolent approach to solving social problems would ultimately prove to be redemptive.

Out of this conviction, history records the marches in Montgomery, Birmingham, Selma, Chicago, and other cities. He gave people an ethical and moral way to engage in activities designed to perfect social change without bloodshed and violence; and when violence did erupt it was that which is potential in any protest which aims to uproot deeply entrenched wrongs. No reasonable person would deny that the activities and the personality of Martin Luther King Jr. contributed largely to the success of the student sit-in movements in abolishing segregation in downtown establishments; and that his activities contributed mightily to the passage of the civil rights legislation of 1964 and 1965.

Martin Luther King Jr. believed in a united America. He believed that the walls of separation brought on by legal and de facto segregation, and discrimination based on race and color, could be eradicated. As he said in his [Lincoln Memorial] address: “I have a dream!

He had faith in his country. He died striving to desegregate and integrate America to the end that this great nation of ours, born in revolution and blood, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created free and equal, will truly become the lighthouse of freedom where none will be denied because his skin is black and none favored because his eyes are blue; where our nation will be militarily strong but perpetually at peace; economically secure but just; learned but wise; where the poorest—the garbage collectors—will have bread enough and to spare; where no one will be poorly housed; each educated up to his capacity; and where the richest will understand the meaning of empathy. This was his dream, and the end toward which he strove. As he and his followers so often sang: “We shall overcome someday; black and white together.

Let it be thoroughly understood that our deceased brother did not embrace nonviolence out of fear or cowardice. Moral courage was one of his noblest virtues. As Mahatma Gandhi challenged the British Empire without a sword and won, Martin Luther King Jr. challenged the inter-racial wrongs of his country without a gun. And he had the faith to believe that he would win the battle for social justice. I make bold to assert that it took more courage for King to practice non-violence than it took for his assassin to fire the fatal shot. The assassin is a coward: he committed his dastardly deed and fled. When Martin Luther disobeyed an unjust law, he accepted the consequences of his actions. He never ran away and he never begged for mercy. He returned to the Birmingham Jail to serve his time.

Perhaps he was more courageous than soldiers who fight and die on the battlefield. There is an element of compulsion in their dying. But when Martin Luther faced death again and again, and finally embraced it, there was no pressure. He was acting on an inner compulsion that drove him on. More courageous than those who advocate violence as a way out, for they carry weapons of destruction for defense. But Martin Luther faced the dogs, the police, jail, heavy criticism, and finally death, and he never carried a gun, not even a knife, to defend himself. He had only his faith in a just God to rely on; and the belief that “thrice is he armed that hath his quarrels just.” The faith that Browning writes about when he said: “One who never turned his back but marched breast forward, / Never doubted clouds would break, / Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph, / Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better, / Sleep to wake.”

Coupled with moral courage was Martin Luther King Jr.’s capacity to love people. Though deeply committed to a program of freedom for Negroes, he had love and concern for all kinds of peoples. He drew no distinction between the high and the low; none between the rich and the poor. He believed especially that he was sent to champion the cause of the man farthest down. He would probably say that if death had to come, I am sure there was no greater cause to die for than fighting to get a just wage for garbage collectors. He was supra-class, and supra--culture. He belonged to the world and mankind. Now he belongs to posterity.

But there is a dichotomy in all this. This man was loved by some and hated by others. If any man knew the meaning of suffering, King knew. House bombed; living day by day for thirteen years under constant threats of death; maliciously accused of being a Communist; falsely accused of being in-sincere and seeking the limelight for his own glory; stabbed by a member of his own race; slugged in a hotel lobby; jailed thirty times; occasionally deeply hurt because friends betrayed him—and yet this man had no bitterness in his heart; no rancor in his soul; no revenge in his mind; and he went up and down the length and breadth of this world preaching non-violence and the redemptive power of love. He believed with all of his heart, mind, and soul that the way to peace and brotherhood is through nonviolence, love, and suffering. He was severely criticized for his opposition to the war in Vietnam. It must be said, however, that one could hardly expect a prophet of Dr. King’s commitments to advocate nonviolence at home and violence in Vietnam. Nonviolence to King was total commitment not only in solving the problems of race in the United States, but the problems of the world.

Surely this man was called of God to do this work. If Amos and Micah were prophets in the eighth century, b.c., Martin Luther King Jr. was a prophet in the twentieth century. If Isaiah was called of God to prophesy in his day, Martin Luther was called of God to prophesy in his time. If Hosea was sent to preach love and forgiveness centuries ago, Martin Luther was sent to expound the doctrine of nonviolence and forgiveness in the third quarter of the twentieth century. If Jesus was called to preach the Gospel to the poor, Martin Luther King Jr. fits that designation. If a prophet is one who does not seek popular causes to espouse, but rather the causes he thinks are right, Martin Luther qualified on that score.

No! He was not ahead of his time. No man is ahead of his time. Every man is within his star, each in his time. Each man must respond to the call of God in his lifetime and not in somebody else’s time. Jesus had to respond to the call of God in the first century, a.d., and not in the twentieth century. He had but one life to live. He couldn’t wait. How long do you think Jesus would have had to wait for the constituted authorities to accept him? Twenty-five years? A hundred years? A thousand? He died at thirty-three. He couldn’t wait. Paul, Galileo, Copernicus, Martin Luther the Protestant reformer, Gandhi, and Nehru couldn’t wait for another time. They had to act in their lifetimes. No man is ahead of his time. Abraham, leaving his country in the obedience to God’s call; Moses leading a rebellious people to the Promised Land; Jesus dying on a cross; Galileo on his knees recanting; Lincoln dying of an assassin’s bullet; Woodrow Wilson crusading for a League of Nations; Martin Luther King Jr. dying fighting for justice for garbage collectors—-none of these men were ahead of their time. With them the time was always ripe to do that which was right and that which needed to be d

Too bad, you say, that Martin Luther King Jr. died so young. I feel that way, too. But, as I have said many times before, it isn’t how long one lives, but how well. It’s what one accomplishes for mankind that matters. Jesus died at thirty-three; Joan of Arc at nineteen … [Paul Laurence] Dunbar before thirty-five; John Fitzgerald Kennedy at forty-six; William Rainey Harper at forty-nine; and Martin Luther King Jr. at thirty-nine.

We all pray that the assassin will be apprehended and brought to justice. But, make no mistake, the American people are in part responsible for Martin Luther King Jr.’s death. The assassin heard enough condemnation of King and of Negroes to feel that he had public support. He knew that millions hated King.

The Memphis officials must bear some of the guilt for Martin Luther’s assassi-nation. The strike should have been settled several weeks ago. The lowest paid men in our society should not have to strike for a more just wage. A century after Emancipation, and after the enactment of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, it should not have been necessary for Martin Luther King Jr. to stage marches in Montgomery, Birmingham, and Selma, and go to jail thirty times trying to achieve for his people those rights which people of lighter hue get by virtue of their being born white. We, too, are guilty of murder. It is time for the American people to repent and make democracy equally applicable to all Americans. What can we do? We, and not the assassin, represent America at its best. We have the power—not the prejudiced, not the assassin—to make things right.

If we love Martin Luther King Jr. and respect him, as this crowd surely testifies, let us see to it that he did not die in vain; let us see to it that we do not dishonor his name by trying to solve our problems through rioting in the streets. Violence was foreign to his nature. He warned that continued riots could produce a Fascist state. But let us see to it also that the conditions that cause riots are promptly removed, as the President of the United States is trying to get us to do. Let black and white alike search their hearts; and if there be prejudice in our hearts against any racial or ethnic group, let us exterminate it and let us pray, as Martin Luther King Jr. would pray if he could: Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. If we do this, Martin Luther King Jr. will have died a redemptive death from which all mankind will benefit.

I close by saying to you what Martin Luther King Jr. believed: If physical death was the price he had to pay to rid America of prejudice and injustice, nothing could be more redemptive. And to paraphrase the words of the immortal John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr.’s unfinished work on earth must truly be our own.





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