A video of two black men being taken out of a Philadelphia Starbucks in handcuffs April 12 went viral and caused a social media firestorm.
#BoycottStartucks has begun to trend on Twitter after @missydepino filmed the scene and published it via a tweet April 12, where it already garnered over 10 million views at the time of publishing.
Holly Hylton has been identified as the store manager who made the decision to call 911 on the men, according to the Daily Mail.
Here’s what you need to know about Holly Hylton:
1. The Video Shows Her Asking the Men to Leave, & She Told a Local News Station That She Doesn’t Warn People if She Is About to Call Police on Them
In the above video, at least six Philadelphia police officers are seen taking the two seemingly cooperative men out of the store, located at 18th and Spruce Streets in Philadelphia.
The caption of the video states: “The police were called because these men hadn’t ordered anything. They were waiting for a friend to show up, who did as they were taken out in handcuffs for doing nothing. All the other white ppl are wondering why it’s never happened to us when we do the same thing.”
Several white customers could be heard defending the black men in the background.
“This is ridiculous,” says one man from the scene. “What did they get called for? Cuz there were two black guys sitting here eating? What did they do, what did they do?”
“They didn’t do anything,” a woman replies. “I saw the entire thing.”
“This is something that’s been going on for years, and everyone’s blind to it, but they know what’s going on, if you get what I mean,” Nelson stated on GMA. “It’s not just a black people thing. This is a people thing, and that’s exactly what we want to see out of this, and that’s true change.”
The two men said they were waiting for a third party to meet about a highly anticipated real estate deal.
“We’ve been working on this for months,” Nelson told GMA. “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.”
A second video, which was reportedly taken only minutes before the arrests, shows officers speaking to the men before a third man, identified as Andrew Yaffe, emerges, and alleges that the black men were waiting for him.
When Yaffe, who is white, asks the officers why they are surrounding the men, an officer said it was due to “trespassing,” adding that the men were asked to leave.
“Why would they be asked to leave?” Yaffe asks the officers. “I wanted to get coffee for two black guys sitting and meeting with me,” he tells the officer. “Does anybody else think this is ridiculous?” he asks other customers.
“It is ridiculous,” a woman replies.
“It’s absolutely discrimination,” Yaffe stated.
In her 911 call, made about 4:37 p.m. last Thursday, Hylton said, “Hi, I have two gentlemen in my café that are refusing to make a purchase or leave. I’m at the Starbucks at 18th and Spruce.” You can listen to Hylton’s 911 call below:
Christopher Norris, a reporter with TechBook Online, a local Philadelphia news site, interviewed Hylton. He wrote, “Holly told me that she doesn’t inform the customers that she’ll be calling the police.” To which Norris responded: “Everyone deserves a warning.”
Hylton, who didn’t give Norris her last name, told him that during her time working the Starbucks at 18th & Spruce Street over the past year she has dealt with many individuals “who loiter in the cafe with no intentions of purchasing.” Norris wrote, “at least one of those persons, she claims, chased her around the store after she asked them to leave.”
He added, “According to Holly – who grew visibly flustered during my unrelenting questioning – a corporate policy germane exclusively to Center City Philadelphia locations prohibits excessive loitering. And if that policy is violated, then management has the discretion to ensure it’s enforced, even if it means calling the police.
2. She Worked at the Philadelphia Store Since 2014, but Doesn’t Work There Anymore
According to Hylton’s now-deleted LinkedIn page, she has worked as a store manager at Starbucks since 2014. Before being promoted to that position, the profile said she worked as a shift supervisor for the popular coffee chain.
Prior to working for Starbucks, Hylton worked as a “shift leader” for Smashburger from 2010-2014 in Ohio. She also served as an assistant manager at Chipotle Mexican Grill from 2006-2010 and worked for Kroger as a customer service representative from 2003-2006, all in Ohio.
All in all, Hylton has several years of experience in the area of customer service.
According to Daily Mail, a Starbucks representative said Monday that Hylton had left the company “while there is an internal review pending.” It was previously reported that it was a mutual decision for her to leave. It is unclear if she is currently seeking other employment or has another job lined up.
3. She Has Made Statements On Facebook Relating to Race & a Former Employee Says She Transferred Her to Another Store, Possibly Because of Her Race
Hylton has appeared in more than one Facebook conversation involving race.
In the above post from June of 2014, a woman wrote: “Holly Marie Hylton I needed you today, customers that only speak spanish, prob the hardest time ive had trying to take an order.” To which Hylton replied, “Ugggghhh I wish I was there! I took an order the other day in Spanish. We only get Chinese, Japanese, or Arabic speakers here. Rude!”
In another post from the same time-frame, Evie Marie Warner wrote: “I just got a phone call from some woman jabbering at me in spanish. I was like I hablo englise (sp?) Holly Marie Hylton, you would have understood perfectly lol. She promptly hung up on me. I decided to call her back and the line was busy. Hopefully, because she dialed the right number and found who ever she was wanting to give a good talking to you! lol”
A former Starbucks employee, Ieshaa Cash, who says she worked for Hylton wrote on Instagram about his experience with her. She wrote, “used to work at this location as a shift supervisor & they hired a new manager Holly, who demoted me, lowered my pay & tranferred me to another location-I had NO write up, NO warnings for anything, customers loved me & NO disciplinary actions & when I requested to speak with the district manager Paul Sykes, he even ignored me -this is how they do business ?? #Starbucks at 18th & Spruce Street #RittenhouseSquare location #racism ?”
Cash told the Daily Mail that Hylton was “uncomfortable” around non-white customers and often targeted them for removal from the store. “Holly always looked for things to complain about and was constantly nitpicking about minor things. I could never do anything right to her,” Cash told the Daily Mail. “One time I ordered an extra sleeve of cups and she went off and gave me a written warning even though we would use them anyway.”
Cash said about her demotion and transfer, “I’ve never been in trouble or disciplined and all the regular customers loved me. I think it’s because she’s racist, she was trying to push me other because she uncomfortable with a black person being there.”
She added, “Holly was very attentive with all the white customers, always making sure they were happy and served quickly. But she was cold and standoffish to everyone else and would say “they can wait”. She often made the baristas serve them so she wouldn’t have to. She always found a reason to kick black people out, she was way more likely to ask them to leave over white people who hadn’t made a purchase. Baristas were usually told to ask them to leave because Holly was so uncomfortable confronting them.” She added that Hylton called the police on several people while she worked there, and they were always black. “Holly was always very careful with what she said, but you could see her racism from the way she acted around people of color.”
4. She’s an Ohio Native, Graduated From Wright State & Moved to Philadelphia for Grad School at LaSalle
Hylton is originally from Dayton, Ohio, and has lived in Philadelphia since 2014, according to online records.
She graduated from Wright State University in Dayton in 2014 with a degree in Spanish. She then moved to Philadelphia to attend LaSalle University, where she completed her master’s degree in Spanish translation and interpretation in December 2017. She also previously studied at Sinclair Community College in Ohio before transferring to Wright State.
5. Starbucks Is Closing Over 8.000 Stores for Racial Training on May 29
On the afternoon of May 29, all company-owned Starbucks coffee shops in the U.S., including its corporate offices, will close to educate employees via racial-basis training following the arrest of the two black men in Philadelphia.
“The anti-discrimination training at the more than 8,000 company-owned shops is ‘designed to address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination and ensure everyone inside a Starbucks store feels safe and welcome,'” according to the April 17 company announcement, as reported by USA Today.
Nelson and Washington met with Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson April 17.
Member’s of Nelson’s fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, rallied outside of the store April 22 in support of the men, which you can watch above.