An Oakland, California coffee shop which has officially barred police officers from its premises is doubling down on its controversial policy, saying that “police presence compromises our feelings of physical & emotional safety.”
According to KTVU-TV, the kerfuffle began when a Latino Oakland police sergeant tried to buy a cup of coffee from Hasta Muerte Coffee in the Fruitvale district of the Bay Area city on March 8.
The officer was denied service by the staff at Hasta Muerte, which — according to The Daily Caller — is a “worker-owned collective with a mural criticizing police shootings and the militarization of law enforcement.”
Classy. The Oakland Police Department officially sent a letter of complaint against the shop, alleging that the employee told the sergeant the shop “does not serve the police.
“Obviously, this is both a surprise and a matter of concern for all Oakland police officers,” the letter continued.
Hasta Muerte — whose name translates to “until death” — was far from conciliatory in a response issued via Instagram.
“We know in our experience working on campaigns against police brutality that we are not alone saying that police presence compromises our feelings of physical & emotional safety,” the statement read.
“The facts are that poc (persons of color), 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,” the screed continued.
“For these reasons and so many more, we need the support of the actual community to keep this place safe, not police.”
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.
Of course, if and when an armed robbery happens, let’s see how effective the members “of the actual community” help keep the place safe or apprehend the perpetrators. But que sera sera.
Even in hyper-liberal Oakland, Hasta Muerte’s no-cop policy rankled residents and lawmakers alike.
“I don’t know what they got against them,” resident Roberto Lopez told KTVU.
“I think it’s cold blooded,” said another resident, who wished only to be identified as “T.” “I don’t understand that.”
Oakland City Councilmember Noel Gallo, the representative for the Fruitvale District, has tried to mediate between Hasta Muerte and the police union; except for the coffee shop’s Instagram post, there hasn’t been any response to the police union’s letter. However, Gallo’s efforts have all to no avail.
“My understanding is they’re not going to serve police officers,” Gallo said.
“I don’t agree with that, 100 percent. I think we need to work together, not against each other.”
However, this being the Bay Area, some residents insisted that “safe spaces” from the people who keep us safe were necessary.
“I think that if a group of people don’t feel safe with a police officer currently on duty, coming into a space, they want people in this neighborhood to be able to feel safe, coming into their space — then that is a choice they should be able to make,” resident Tenaya Gunter Brown said.
However, resident Mildred Jelks may have put it best (if only because her comment pretty much echos exactly what I had to say).
“They’re protecting them,” Jelks said. “If somebody breaks in there, who are they gonna call? The police.”
Thankfully for the hypocrites at Hasta Muerte, some of them will likely be right nearby. After all, there’s a Peets and a Starbucks right up the street — and one imagines they’ll be getting plenty more business after more people start hearing about this story.
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