The two men, who were reportedly meeting a friend at the store, were subsequently released by police after Starbucks told officers they would not pursue criminal charges, according to Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross.
"What did they do?" one man asks.
The video went viral, with almost 8 million views, on Twitter over the weekend and immediately sparked national outrage.
The employees told officers the two men wanted to use the restroom but were told the facilities are only for paying customers. "Creating an environment that is both safe and welcoming for everyone is paramount for every store". The caption of the video reads: "The police were called because these men hadn't ordered anything".
He added: "Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did".
"The basis for the call to the Philadelphia police department was wrong", he said. The attorney for the two men, Lauren Wimmer, told the Philadelphia Inquirer she received word that the two were being released from custody at 12:30 a.m. Friday, almost eight hours after the initial 911 call.
The incident is a dramatic turn for a company that has positioned itself as a progressive corporate leader and touts "diversity and inclusion" - efforts that have also drawn its share of criticism.
A Starbucks official said it is company policy for stores in Philadelphia and other cities to require anyone who wants to use the facilities to buy something.
A real estate investor is heard in the video telling officers the men were waiting to meet with him to discuss a deal. But why? What were they doing that necessitated that they leave? "Does anybody else think this is ridiculous?" he asks other cafe patrons.
Video of the arrest posted to Twitter now has more than 2 million views and has also prompted an internal investigation by the Philadelphia Police Department. These guys never raised their voices. "They were professional in all their dealings with these gentlemen", Ross said.
The video, captured by author Melissa DePino, shows the tail end of what occurred during the incident that has led to public outrage. He noted that the omnipresent coffee shops are known for being community hubs of people who do not necessarily buy anything, suggesting that the manager's actions may have been motivated by race.
"I am heartbroken to see Philadelphia in the headlines for an incident that - at least based on what we know at this point - appears to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018".
"Starbucks should be a place where everyone is treated the same, no matter the color of their skin", Kenney says.
Philadelphia's police commissioner is defending the arrest. But, he added, "If a business calls and they say that 'someone is here that I no longer wish to be in my business, ' [officers] now have a legal obligation to carry out their duties, and they did just that".
"So they [Starbucks] are at least consistent in their policy", he said.
"They did a service that they were called to do", he said.
Ross, who is black, references his own experiences while making his case, saying, "As an African-American male, I am very aware of implicit bias". If you are reading this story on another publication, it was illegally stolen and republished in violation of USA & global trademark and copyright law.