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New Starbucks Coffee Report Created in Wake of Racial Discrimination in Stores Cites Research by Former ABF Doctoral Fellow

July 30, 2018, ABF news

CHICAGO, July 30, 2018 Former American Bar Foundation (ABF) Doctoral Fellow, Ayobami Laniyonu, and his article, "Coffee Shops and Street Shops: Policing Practices in Gentrifying Neighborhoods," was referenced in a new report by Demos, a nonprofit working to reduce political and economic inequality in the U.S., and the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund (LDF). The report, "Toward A Vision for Racial Equity & Inclusion at Starbucks: Review and Recommendations," was created to help Starbucks and other corporations address and prevent racial discrimination from taking place in their stores after an incident on April 12, 2018 at a Starbucks in Philadelphia. "Coffee Shops and Street Shops," which explores how gentrification and changes to neighborhoods affects policing patterns, is cited in a section of the report discussing how Starbucks contributes to the gentrification and economic development of neighborhoods where it opens and causes displacement of long-time residents who are primarily African-Americans or other people of color.

The report was developed after Starbucks' Founder and then-Chairman, Howard Schulz, contacted Demos and the LDF for advice on how to prevent similar incidents of racial bias from happening in the Starbucks' stores. The incident at the Philadelphia Starbucks in April, involving a Starbucks store manager who called the police on two African-American men who met there for a meeting but had not yet purchased anything and had them arrested, was video recorded and shared online, where it received millions of views and sparked a global online conversation around discrimination in retail.

Laniyonu's article, which won the Law and Society Association's (LSA) Graduate Student Paper Prize in 2018 for the best graduate paper in law and society research, found that:

  • Neighborhood gentrification leads to greater "quality of life" and "order maintenance" policing, such as ticketing for minor offenses like jaywalking or loitering and "Stop-and-Frisk" searches.
  • New residents in gentrifying neighborhoods participate in criminalizing long-time residents by calling the police to report noise complaints, panhandling, or 'suspicious activity.'

Laniyonu's research and findings are just one example of how the ABF continues to foster the next generation of publicly engaged, socio-legal scholars through its innovative fellowship programs.

About Ayobami Laniyonu

Laniyonu is currently a Research Scientist at the Center for Policing Equity in New York City and will serve in his new position as Assistant Professor at the Center of Criminology and Sociolegal Studies at the University of Toronto starting in July 2019. He studies race, politics and the criminal justice system. While a doctoral candidate in political science at the University of California, Los Angeles, Laniyonu joined the ABF as a Doctoral Fellow from 2016-2018. 

About the American Bar Foundation

The American Bar Foundation (ABF) is among the world's leading research institutes for the empirical and interdisciplinary study of law. The ABF seeks to expand knowledge and advance justice through innovative, interdisciplinary, and rigorous empirical research on law, legal processes, and legal institutions.  To further this mission the ABF will produce timely, cutting-edge research of the highest quality to inform and guide the legal profession, the academy, and society in the United States and internationally. The ABF’s primary funding is provided by the American Bar Endowment and the Fellows of The American Bar Foundation.


Posted by Danielle Gensburg.

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