ABC News(PHILADELPHIA) — The two black men who were arrested at a Starbucks in downtown Philadelphia last week and accused of trespassing said they were there for a business meeting that they hoped would change their lives.
Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson came forward Thursday morning on ABC News’ Good Morning America to publicly share their story for the first time.
The entrepreneurs and longtime friends said they were waiting to meet a potential business partner at the Starbucks in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square neighborhood when they saw police officers enter the store and speak with the manager.
“I was thinking, ‘They can’t be here for us,'” Robinson said in the interview with GMA Co-Anchor Robin Roberts.
The pair didn’t think anything of it until the officers approached their table and told them they needed to leave, they said.
“It was just, ‘Get out. You have to leave. You’re not buying anything, so you shouldn’t be here,'” Nelson told GMA.
They calmly told the officers they were there for a meeting, and Robinson said he even called the person they were waiting for. But the officers repeatedly insisted that they leave, they said.
“This is a real estate meeting. We’ve been working on this for months,” Nelson said. “We’re days away from changing our whole entire situation, our lives, and you about to sit here telling me I can’t do that? You’re not doing that.”
The officers ultimately handcuffed Nelson and Robinson, and escorted them out of the Starbucks and into a squad car before taking them to the police station. An onlooker captured the incident on video, which went viral and prompted Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson to release a statement saying the “reprehensible outcome” should have never happened.
Robinson said police never read them their Miranda rights when they were handcuffed and they were held in custody for eight hours.
“There was no reasoning,” he said. “They had nothing. They just kept using ‘defiant trespassing’ as their excuse for putting us behind bars.”
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