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Starbucks To Close Stores For Afternoon Of Racial Bias Training

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Starbucks will close its corporate offices and more than 8,000 U.S. stores for several hours on May 29 to conduct racial-bias training for nearly 175,000 workers.

The announcement comes amid uproar over the arrests of two black men last week at a Starbucks in Philadelphia.

The company said the training is "designed to address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination and ensure everyone inside a Starbucks store feels safe and welcome."

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Police said they were told that the men asked to use the restroom but were denied because they hadn't bought anything. They later released the men, saying there was no basis for criminal charges.

The men said they were simply waiting for a meeting and were singled out due to race.

"We have a situation, and the people at the center of this have come together with civility, common purpose and a willingness to listen to one another and work towards a solution," their attorney, Stewart Cohen, said.

Video of the incident went viral, leading to allegations of racial bias and calls to boycott Starbucks on social media.

Protesters shut down multiple Starbucks in Philadelphia on Monday. Separately, another black man said he was denied access to a Starbucks bathroom in Los Angeles, even though a white man who hadn't bought anything was given the code.

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson called the arrests "reprehensible" and said he wanted to apologize to the two men face to face. The company and a lawyer for the men said they did meet, and Johnson delivered the apology.

Starbucks said the employee who called police no longer works at the store, but declined to give details.

A recording of that 911 call was released Tuesday.

"Hi, I have two gentlemen in my café that are refusing to make a purchase or leave," the manager can be heard saying.

Starbucks also said former attorney general Eric Holder will help develop its racial bias training material.

"I definitely think that they wouldn't have taken these actions if it hadn't been so widely reported and covered, but that they're greatly needed actions to be taken," college student James Shoptough told CBS2's Tony Aiello in New Rochelle.

"I don't have enough evidence to show this was really a bias incident," said Nick Dallaris.

"I think it's important. It shows that there's concern," Callison Dennis said in Harlem. "I think it's a good start."

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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