(Xinhua file photo)
Starbucks announced Tuesday that it will close all its company-owned stores in the United States for the afternoon on May 29 to train employees how to prevent racial discrimination in their stores in the wake of outrage over the arrest of two African-American men at one of its coffee shops last week.
More than 8,000 stores will be closed and training will be provided to nearly 175,000 employees and incorporated into company training going forward, according to Starbucks.
The curriculum will be designed "to address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination and ensure everyone inside a Starbucks store feels safe and welcome," the company said in a statement.
The move came after the Seattle-based chain was under fire for a decision by staff at one of its Philadelphia stores to call the police on two African-American men when they didn't buy anything and asked to use the restrooms.
The two men were told they couldn't use the restrooms unless they are paying customers. They explained that they were waiting for a friend, who later arrived.
Police arrested them and the footage of which has been viewed millions of times and drawn widespread condemnation.
The company's CEO Kevin Johnson has apologized for the incident and the coffee giant confirmed that the Philadelphia employee who called the police is no longer with the company.
"While this is not limited to Starbucks, we're committed to being a part of the solution," Johnson said. "Closing our stores for racial bias training is just one step in a journey that requires dedication from every level of our company and partnerships in our local communities."