(Image: Casey Jaywork via )
Thursday afternoon, the 23rd and Jackson Starbucks was packed with people wall-to-wall: many of color, some white, lots of green-apron baristas, lots of navy-blue Seattle cops. And Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and SPD Chief Kathleen O’Toole were there, too, for a community forum on police and race.
“We all know that there are very serious problems going on in America today around racism, racial tension,” Schultz told the crowd. He said that with his company “heartbroken” over the tension between black communities and police, Starbucks has decided to use “our stores and our scale to elevate a national conversation” on the topic. Stay tuned, he added, for a big, related announcement sometime next week. There’s no word on if the 23rd and Jackson event’s “Coffee with a Cop” branding will stick.
UPDATE 3/17/2015: That “big, related announcement” has been made. With a new “Race Together” campaign, Starbucks reportedly “wants its baristas to talk about race in America.” It hasn’t necessarily got off to a great start.
Cops, baristas, and residents came together — via a couple cordless microphones and a YWCA facilitator — for an extended open discussion on the precise nature and potential solutions of the problems highlighted by the #BlackLivesMatter protests, which have rocked Seattle over the past half year.
Some pointed toward the economic context of crime. As one speaker put it: “When people steal and snatch iPhones and stuff like that, it’s usually to sell it to go get money to eat or whatever it may be. And so I think [we need to] focus on the economic opportunities [of young people]… When a person owns a business, they have a different relationship with the police.” Continue reading