California Coffee Shop Refuses Service to Police, Citing Emotional Concerns
Hasta Muerte Coffee shop in Oakland, California, has instituted a controversial policy concerning police officers. The worker-owned coffee shop and self-proclaimed radical book store will not serve them because of physical and emotional safety concerns.
According to KTVU-TV, Hasta Muerte Coffee isn’t your average coffee shop. The station described the outfit as “a worker-owned collective with a decidedly anti-establishment bent.” They are very vocal concerning police brutality. The report also described a mural outside of the cafe that decries “fatal police shootings and law enforcement militarization.”
Last Friday February 16th a police (OPD) entered our shop and was told by one of our worker-owners that “we have a policy of asking police to leave for the physical and emotional safety of our customers and ourselves.” Since then, cop supporters are trying to publicly shame us online with low reviews because this particular police visitor was Latino. He broadcasted to his network that he was “refused service” at a local business and now the rumblings are spreading. We know in our experience working on campaigns against police brutality that we are not alone saying that police presence compromises our feeling of physical & emotional safety. There are those that do not share that sentiment – be it because they have a friend or relative who is a police, because they are white or have adopted the privileges whiteness affords, because they are home- or business- owning, or whatever the particular case may be. If they want to make claims about police being part of the community, or claims that race trumps the badge & gun when it comes to police, they must accept that the burden of proof for such a claim is on them. OPDs recent attempts to enlist officers of color and its short term touting of fewer officer involved shootings does not reverse or mend its history of corruption, mismanagement, and scandal, nor a legacy of blatant repression. The facts are that poc, women, and queer police are complicit in upholding the same law and order that routinely criminalizes and terrorizes black and brown and poor folks, especially youth, trans, and houseless folks. For these reasons and so many more, we need the support of the actual community to keep this place safe, not police. Especially in an area faced by drug sales and abuse, homelessness, and toxic masculinity as we see here on this block. We want to put this out to our communities now, in case we end up facing backlash because as we know OPD, unlike the community, has tons of resources, many of which are poured into maintaining smooth public relations to uphold power. It will be no surprise if some of those resources are steered toward discrediting us for not inviting them in as part of the community
This all began when a local police sergeant visited the cafe in order to buy a cup of coffee and introduced himself. Officer Trevino is president of the Alameda, California chapter of the Latino Peace Officers Association and generally works in the neighborhood where the cafe is located. It’s unclear if Trevino was there for coffee or if he simply wanted to introduce himself or both. The cafe reportedly denied service to the officer. In response, the president of the Oakland Officers Association wrote a letter to the establishment asking them to clarify their policy of not serving officers. They responded by stating that their policy is in place to protect the “physical and emotional safety” of their customers and workers.
The coffee shop owners went on to allege that because they refused service to the officer, supporters of the police have tried to publicly shame the cafe online by posting “low reviews.” KTVU spoke with Oakland City Councilmember Noel Gallo, who represents the district in which the coffee shop is located. “My understanding is they’re not going to serve our police officers,” Gallo explained. He added, “I don’t agree with that, 100 percent. I think we ought to work together, not against each other.”
Many people in the area don’t believe that the cafe should discriminate against police officers — especially since these same officers are the ones keeping their city safe. It could impact the coffee shop as well if they need to rely on these police officers in an emergency. The coffee shop’s Instagram account is still active, however, their Facebook page has been taken down as a result of the backlash over their policy.
The Oakland Police Department respects business owners right to serve anyone they choose. OPD along with other community members are reaching out to the business to have constructive dialogue in our efforts to unite our community #UNITE
— Oakland Police Dept. (@oaklandpoliceca) March 9, 2018
This is the “Hasta Muerte” Coffee shop in Oakland that is refusing to serve uniformed police officers over issues of police brutality. Do you agree with their policy? #abc7now @abc7newsbayarea @oaklandpoliceca pic.twitter.com/4BOmy52j3t
— Carlos Saucedo (@Carlos_Saucedo) March 9, 2018
It’s a surprise to many residents as well. “I don’t know what they got against them,” said Roberto Lopez. Another resident, who wished only to be identified as “T,” agreed, saying, “I think it’s cold blooded. I don’t understand that.”
This is not your average coffee shop. “Hasta Muerte” – Spanish for “until death” – posted a message on its Instagram page that translates to “talk with your neighbors, not the police.” Oakland PD’s logo is also crossed off.
The Oakland fire union has asked its members to refrain from going to the shop out of solidarity with police officers. The department tweeted that it “respects business owners right to serve anyone they choose” and that police officials along with other community members are “reaching out to the business to have constructive dialogue in our efforts to unite our community.” Their efforts are so far being rebuffed by the coffee shop owners.