On Wednesday (May 2), the city of Philadelphia announced that Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson had reached a $1 settlement in their Starbucks case. To “focus on positive outcome,” the gentleman requested that a $200,000 program for young entrepreneurs be implemented, freeing the city from “any and all claims.”
“Rather than spending time, money, and resources to engage in a potentially adversarial process, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson approached the city and invited us to partner with them in an attempt to make something positive come of this,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement. “This agreement is the result of those conversations, and I look forward to seeing the fruits of this effort in the coming months and years.”
The resolution was met with mixed responses on social media, with some (mostly non-POC) praising the decision and others (Black folks) expressing their fervent discontentment. On Thursday, Robinson and Nelson sat down with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America to explain why they came to their decision.
“The most important thing is the foundation, the fact that we have a seat at the table to work on, you know, reforms that [will be] included in the racial bias training,” Nelson stated. Robinson added, “Looking at how we took a negative and turned it into a positive, that’s really all we want.” The gentleman also revealed that Starbucks offered them opportunities to complete their bachelor’s degrees, though Robinson stated he “can’t say” he’ll be able to take advantage at the moment.
In April, Robinson and Nelson were waiting for a business associate at a Philadelphia Starbucks when they were approached by police officers and asked to leave. The two were then arrested for “trespassing and disturbance,” sparking public outcry and protest in the weeks to follow.
While many feel that $200,000 is a small number, some have speculated that Starbucks may actually be shelling out more than what’s being reported. Legal experts say the damages are “nominal,” however. “They were held for several hours and charges were dropped,” New York City defense attorney Paul Martin told The Grio.