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Starbucks is closing 8,000 company-owned USA stores at around 2 pm local time on Tuesday as a first step in training 175,000 employees on racial tolerance.

Starbucks committed to the training after a Philadelphia cafe manager's call to police resulted in the arrests of two black men who were waiting for a friend.

As a result, about 8,000 company-owned locations across the country will close early Tuesday. Starbucks locations in the Jacksonville area will close starting at 2:30 p.m. About 7,000 licensed stores, including those in hotels, universities, grocery stores and airports, will be open.

Each store will receive a tool kit which will allow for partners to learn together in small self-guided groups.

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McGhee and NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund President Sherrilyn Ifill, who are both advising Starbucks on its program, said they have been in regular contact with company executives, particularly Chief Operating Officer Rosalind Brewer, who also is African-American.

During Starbucks' training today, Schultz said, employees will "be sharing life experiences, hearing from others, listening to experts, reflecting on the realities of bias in our society and talking about how all of us create public spaces where everyone feels like they belong - because they do". Employees called the police when the men refused to leave the Starbucks after asking to use the restroom without having purchased any drinks.

Starbuck's Chairman Howard Schultz says the coffee chain's restrooms will be open to anyone who wants to use them, paying customer or not. If customers are disruptive, employees have been advised to step in. A sign on one Chicago store said the location would be closing so that employees can "reconnect with our mission and share ideas about how to make Starbucks even more welcoming".

The company offered specific guidelines in a document shared with employees. Ifill acted as an unpaid adviser to Starbucks and told CNN that the plan is ambitious. They added that they will issue a report in the next few weeks outlining a comprehensive set of issues they believe the company must address. "Starbucks' employees will continue to operate in an environment that reinforces racial disparities", they wrote. "We've made it clear that we won't be a rubber stamp to validate their programming", McGhee said. If so, employees are instructed to approach the customer and respectfully ask him or her to cease the offensive action while another employee watches.


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