The city of Philadelphia is trying to make amends for the arrest of two Black men at Starbucks.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross and Mayor Jim Kenney issued a public apology for cops arresting Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson last week.
Commissioner Ross had previously defended his officers for taking the men into custody after the manager of the City Center Starbucks called police because Nelson and Robinson were simply sitting in the shop as they waited for a friend.
NBC Philadelphia reports that in a press conference on Thursday, however, Ross believes that he “failed miserably” in his comments about the arrests and made the situation worse.
He admitted that he didn’t know about Starbucks’ policy to allow people to hang out in their shops even if they are not paying customers. The police commissioner, who is Black, told reports that the issue surrounding race is not lost on him.
“I am flawed like many other folks but that is still no excuse,” Ross stated. “I just think that as we work to make this city safer and better we do have to acknowledge that there are still things that we need to work on.”
He added in apology, “It starts at the top and that starts with me. Messaging is important and I failed miserably in this regard.”
Mayor Kenney offered his remarks in a written statement, applauding Ross for admitting his fault. The mayor also offered his sympathies to Nelson and Robinson as the victims in this arrest.
“I want to acknowledge their pain and the pain of so many others, and commit our city to healing it together over the coming days, weeks and months,” the mayor’s statement read in part. “The current realities of race relations and bias in 2018 warrant ongoing re-evaluations by each and every one of us.”
The mayor admitted that the Philadelphia Police Department did not have any policy regarding situations like this. He added that the city has since developed guidance for these types of scenarios, which will be released soon.