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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Two recent encounters at a Philadelphia Starbucks and a Pennsylvania golf club escalated into full-blown confrontations when people decided to call 911 to report the incidents.

The incidents led to allegations of racism against black patrons and showed how common it has become for people to call 911 these days to settle fairly routine disputes.

In many cases, the call served as the catalyst for racially charged encounters that African-Americans have experienced.

The National Emergency Number Association says about 240 million calls are made to 911 in the U.S. each year, mostly from cell phones. Studies have shown that African-Americans are less likely to call the police than whites.