Online Rumors Lead Anti-Israeli Protestors to 'Smash and Loot' Starbucks Stores in London
Protesters broke away from an anti-Israel rally and "smashed and looted" two Starbucks locations in London on Saturday because of rumors on the internet claiming that Starbucks donates funds to Israel. The Telegraph UK reports:
Riot police surrounded up to 240 demonstrators in central London, many wearing scarves covering their faces, who broke away from a rally in Trafalgar Square at about 5pm. Up to 200 were tracked by a police helicopter as they ransacked the coffee shops in Piccadilly and Shaftesbury Avenue while 40 more were contained in Hyde Park, thought to be on their way to the Israeli embassy in Kensington.
The rumors date back to 2006, but with heightened tensions dating due to recent conflicts, Starbucks has been the subject of a boycott campaign that was started on the internet falsely claiming that the chain donates profits to the Israeli government and funds the Army. Starbucks has tried to set the record straight about its operations in the Middle East, twittering about it and pointing to a press release stating:
It is disheartening that calls for boycotts of Starbucks stores and products, which are based on blatant untruths, have had direct impacts on local economies and residents, and have also led to violent situations involving our stores, partners (employees) and customers.
Our more than 160,000 partners and business associates around the globe have diverse views about a wide range of topics. Regardless of that spectrum of belief, Starbucks Coffee Company remains a non-political organization. We do not support any political or religious cause. Further, allegations that Starbucks provides financial support to the Israeli government and/or the Israeli Army in any way are unequivocally false.