Group Protests Bartlesville Starbucks Following Soldier's Funeral

Sunday, November 13th 2011, 12:33 pm
By: Dee Duren

Editor's note:  The Patriot Guard Riders have informed News On 6 that the group was not involved in the incident described in the story.  The motorcycle riders in the story belonged to other groups not affiliated with the Patriot Guard. 

A group of protestors were outside the Bartlesville Starbucks at Frank Phillips Boulevard and U.S. Highway 75 Sunday in reaction to an incident they say took place during the funeral procession of a fallen Oklahoma soldier.

They say the coffee shop's manager was disrespectful to veterans by asking a group of motorcycle riders to leave the company's property.

Hundreds of motorcyclists were in Bartlesville that day to show support of Sergeant Christopher Gailey, who was killed November 1, 2011 in Afghanistan.  The riders and other citizens lined the streets to wave American flags as Gailey's body was transported through town to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Chief of police Tom Holland told News On 6 he believed several groups of motorcyclists were in town, including one that has been involved in incidents of violence. Holland also said there were members of the Westboro Baptist Church who were protesting near the Starbucks.

He did not know of any problems but said he would look into the incident on Monday.

11/12/2011 Related Story: Hundreds Stand Watch In Support Of Fallen Oklahoma Soldier

The protest was small Sunday morning with a few people dressed in red, white and blue holding signs near the store. 

Protestors also posted on the company's Facebook page with demands for an apology and promises to boycott the coffee giant.

Starbucks issued the following statement to News On 6 Sunday afternoon:

"We apologize for the misunderstanding at our Bartlesville, Oklahoma store. Our store partners in no way meant to dishonor or disrespect members of the military or their families.

Starbucks is a proud supporter of our troops and we are sorry for the loss of Sgt. Christopher Gailey. We send our condolences to his family."

News On 6 Facebook fans also weighed in on the issue:

Angela Wilson says: "There is a story to be told! Please look on Starbucks Facebook page at the supper support still going for the fallen soldiers of America . Shame on you Starbucks !"

From Josh Gannon: "It is pretty outrageous that the manager did this but protesting Starbucks doesn't seem very appropriate. Protest the manager, not the company."

Jordan Kastl writes:  "Nobody is debating the legality of her actions. Her ethics are what's in question."