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SC native, ‘Luke Cage’ star criticizes cops — and applauds Starbucks' racial-bias training

Mike Colter attends the ‘Luke Cage’ panel on day 1 of Comic-Con International on July 21, 2016, in San Diego.
Mike Colter attends the ‘Luke Cage’ panel on day 1 of Comic-Con International on July 21, 2016, in San Diego. Powers Imagery/Invision/AP

Mike Colter plays a superhero on Netflix, and now he is trying to fight injustice in real life.

The South Carolina native stars as Marvel comic book hero Luke Cage on the Netflix series by the same name. Colter has also portrayed the character Luke Cage on "Jessica Jones" and "The Defenders."

And now in reality, Colter is taking a stand against racism. The University of South Carolina alum is criticizing police after a recent incident at a Philadelphia Starbucks in which two black men were arrested while sitting inside one of the chain’s coffee shops, sparking nationwide uproar on social media.

The men were reportedly just waiting at the coffee shop for another man when they asked to use the restroom and were denied. Police say the men then refused to leave.

Colter, who grew up in St. Matthews and graduated from Calhoun County High School, was among those criticizing Starbucks and the police for how both handled the situation. But after Starbucks' CEO responded to controversy, Colter has come to applaud the coffee chain.

But he had some pointed words for Starbucks on Saturday. Colter made a series of Twitter posts about the incident, taking aim at Starbucks.

"If Starbucks doesn't make this right they can count me out as a customer," Colter tweeted.

In the tweet, Colter called on Starbucks to apologize that its employee calling the police, and to offer the men who were arrested free Starbucks for life. Or as he put it, "A lifetime of free overpriced brew for these fine gents."



It didn't take Colter long to follow-up in another tweet, quickly criticizing how the police handled the situation.

"Why can’t cops be better at their job?" Colter asked on Twitter, before delving into the issue of police and race.

"No black men were shot. THIS TIME," emphasized Colter, who said he's a member of the Police Benevolent Association. "The officers could have applied common sense to the situation but instead chose to act like robots. Programmed against POC. These officers failed to use their brains AGAIN."

In another post, Colter said how he has had positive experiences in most of his visits to Starbucks over the years, saying it "has been cool." But he struggled to rationalize the Philadelphia situation after watching the video of the incident.

Two black men were arrested in a Starbucks in downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on April 12 for refusing to leave the store while waiting for a friend. The men had allegedly not purchased anything and tried to use the restroom.

Colter explained how he felt like he had traveled back in time, saying it felt like before the Civil Rights movement when segregation was the norm in many public places.

It was "like these men were in whites only establishment," Colter tweeted, again putting the onus on the police for how they responded to the situation. "Its really a POLICE TRAINING PROBLEM."

Colter even added his name to a growing number of people who were calling for a boycott of Starbucks. He put the #BoycottStarbucks hashtag on Twitter, along with a sad-face emoji.

His emoji soon changed. After Tuesday's announcement from Starbucks that it will close stores on May 29 to conduct racial-bias training to help prevent discrimination, Colter applauded the move.

He used hand-clapping emojis with a message as he re-tweeted Starbucks' statement.

"We're taking a hard look at who we are as a company. We’re ashamed & recognize that racial bias is a problem we must address," Starbucks posted on its official Twitter feed.

This drew support from Colter, who again criticized police: "Thx STARBUCKS! Boldly going where no American POLICE force has gone before! Armed with just a scones and your hot or cold tasty beverages daring to lead the the way for the advancement of mankind. You didn’t have to do it but you did! I see you."

The second season of "Luke Cage" is set to premiere June 22 on Netflix.

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