Two black men were arrested at Starbucks. Now the company and police are on the defensive.

Starbucks, which once asked baristas to start a conversation about race with customers, faces fierce criticism — including calls for a companywide boycott — after two black men were arrested at a Philadelphia store, sparking accusations of racial profiling over what the company’s chief executive now calls a “reprehensible” incident.

Chief executive Kevin Johnson apologized in a weekend statement to the two men who were taken out of the store in handcuffs by at least six officers on Thursday and has traveled has from Seattle to Philadelphia, where, he says, “I hope to meet personally with the two men who were arrested to offer a face-to-face apology.”

Johnson will also meet with Mayor Jim Kenney (D) and Police Commissioner Richard Ross, according to

Protests were underway early Monday at the Philadelphia Starbucks where the incident occurred.

A store manager had asked the two men to leave after they attempted to use the bathroom but had not made any purchases, police said. The men said they were waiting for a friend, their attorney later said. The manager then called 911 for assistance, the company said.

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