Howard Schultz on Crime

Starbucks CEO; independent candidate for President until July 2019


Open discussion about black communities' mistrust of police

On July 17, 2014, an unarmed forty-three-year-old black man named Eric Garner was approached by white officers on a sidewalk in Staten Island, New York, on suspicion of illegally selling cigarettes. Eric died one hour after the incident. The video of Eric's brutal arrest was more than hard to watch. It was horrific.

When a jury chose to not indict the police officer who killed Eric Garner, in December 2014, the decision further exacerbated the sense of distrust black communities had for police and provoked demonstrations by protesters. I held an open forum [at Starbucks HQ]. "The last few weeks," I began, "It seems like something is not right, and whether you are black or white, it feels that, as Americans, this is not our best day. For that reason, I felt like we should come together and have an opportunity to discuss this among ourselves.

Source: From the Ground Up, by Howard Schultz, p.191-2 , Jan 28, 2019

Restore public trust by increasing police diversity

I did not know much about policing in America. As a part of my own self-education, I arranged to meet with local law enforcement officials in many cities where we held open forums.

In Seattle, I met with then-Chief of Police Kathleen O'Toole, who had been recruited to turn the police force around. She wanted to try to restore public trust in the police department by bringing more diversity to the force, improving training, and employing more officers who lived in the city they policed. She had seen how even well-intentioned officers were cast in a dim light when corruption or abuses were uncovered.

"Nobody dislikes bad cops more than good cops," she said. And we agreed that despite a long history of prejudiced law enforcement in America, there were and are good police.

Source: From the Ground Up, by Howard Schultz, p.197-9 , Jan 28, 2019

After Ferguson riots, distribute compendium about race

We decided to develop a compendium about race in America that we could distribute in Starbucks stores. We agreed to do more forums [including Ferguson, Missouri, the site of a police shooting and riots]. In Ferguson. 37 buildings had been looted and vandalized. Millions of African Americans had been born into impoverished neighborhoods that felt inescapable, especially for young people, who felt cut off from jobs and good schools and even fresh food. In Ferguson, the helplessness so many were feeling exploded in moments of rage that had been built up over lifetimes.

That's what it took to get the world's attention, I thought. Including mine. Starbucks had eight stores near Ferguson, but the only one in the city itself was inside a Target. There was no stand-alone store in which people could gather. As we headed to the airport, I said, "We have to open a store here." People in the car nodded. They were thinking the same thing.

Source: From the Ground Up, by Howard Schultz, p.196-201 , Jan 28, 2019

Ignoring shootings of black men makes us part of the problem

17-year-old Trayvon Martin was fatally shot by a white neighborhood watch volunteer who was later acquitted. Trayvon's death, sparked the Black Lives Matter movement, bringing issues of violence toward black people and systematic racism to the forefront of the nation's attention.

[I said at a Starbucks forum], "If we just keep going about our business and ringing the Starbucks register every day and ignoring this moment in our country, then we are part of the problem."

Source: From the Ground Up, by Howard Schultz, p.192-3 , Jan 28, 2019

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