Palestinian messages at Starbucks store in Hamilton removed after complaints

A Palestinian flag at Starbucks in Hamilton, Ont. (Credit: Leor Herman/Facebook)

Customers at a Starbucks store on York Boulevard, in Hamilton, Ont., were treated to a call for Palestinian solidarity along with their coffees Saturday, July 3.

A hand-drawn Palestinian flag was posted in the store during the afternoon shift, sparking immediate calls on social media for a boycott of the popular chain.

Toronto resident Leor Herman was in Hamilton that day on business and dropped into the store for lunch with some colleagues but left without buying anything after seeing the display.

“I was a little shocked and left the store because I wasn’t comfortable buying anything, nor did I want to make a scene,” he said in an email. He did, however, snap a picture of the display and posted it to Facebook and Twitter.

“I took the picture and shared it on Facebook and tweeted it to Starbucks Canada, asking if it was an acceptable political message for their store,” he said.

The message accompanying the chalk drawing proclaimed “We’ve come along (sic) way but there’s still work to be done. We stand in solidarity as allies.”

Within hours more than 500 people had commented on Herman’s post expressing sadness and anger at the incident.

In an email, a spokesperson for Starbucks Canadian office said the image has been removed.

“We want everyone, both our partners and customers, to have a warm, welcoming and safe experience in our stores. In cases where that doesn’t happen, we work to address it,” the statement said. “Starbucks is aware of the incident and we are taking this matter very seriously.”

Several months ago, a barista at a Thornhill, Ont. location ran afoul of company policies by sporting a T-shirt and mask displaying the Palestinian flag and proclaiming the message “stop the oppression in Palestine.”

Again, Herman said, the issue was reported to the company and he said it was promptly handled.  

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