By: Tracey Joseph, Member-Candidate, J.D. Candidate, May 2020, St. Thomas University School of Law.

On April 12, 2018, two African-American men, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, arrived at a Starbucks coffee shop in Philadelphia to use the restroom while they waited for a business meeting with a friend. However, they were turned away because they were told that only paid customers were allowed to use the restrooms. Rashon and Donte then occupied a table
in the coffee shop without making a purchase, which is a common occurrence at Starbuck’s establishments. But, on this particular day, a white female employee at the Starbucks called the Philadelphia police on the two after they were asked to leave but refused. The police officers arrived and asked the two men to leave as well but once again, they refused. Shortly thereafter, Rashon and Donte were arrested for trespassing. The men were eventually released, and charges were never filed.

Similarly, this past Fourth of July, a white male employee at a private community pool called the police on a black family. The man asked the family to show identification that proved they were residents in the area, however, there were no rules that required identification at the pool. After the woman refused, the employee called the police, but nothing was done because the woman had a key card that gave her access to the pool. In the past few months, several other similar incidents have occurred. Two white CVS employees were fired because they called the police on a black woman for a coupon she tried to use because they believed it was fraudulent. A white female employee at a Subway was put on administrative leave after she called the police on a black family as they sat and ate their food because she believed they planned to rob her. And just a few days ago, on September 20, 2018, a white female Delta employee called the police on a black woman after she demanded to speak to the manager because her luggage was returned to her damaged.

As a result of these incidents, millions are outraged because white people are constantly calling the police on African-Americans for no reason at all. African-Americans and other minorities are repetitively being racially profiled, and it seems nothing has been done to at least decrease such occurrences. Is it enough that those employees were fired? Starbucks on the other
hand, closed thousands of their company-owned stores to educate employees about racial bias. But, how much of an impact will this really make? There needs to be more done to stop people from making frivolous calls and wasting police officer’s time and resources. A New York Legislator proposed a “hate crime bill for dubious calls to police,” after the exact same thing happened to him. It is time that the law holds people accountable for the actions, and this bill may have people reconsider before speed-dialing 911.