Police officers watch as protesters project messages on their station wall after a brutality march in Oakland on January 17, 2015. (Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)

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Oakland Coffee Shop Refuses to Serve Police Officers

Employee-owned Hasta Muerte Coffee set policy ‘for physical and emotional safety of our customers and ourselves.’

A coffee shop in Oakland has left many steaming over a policy in which it refuses to serve police officers.

Hasta Muerte Coffee made local headlines when a barista refused to serve a uniformed police sergeant, who happens to be the president of the Latino Police Officers Association of Alameda County, according to KCRA-TV.

The employee-owned co-op claims the policy ensures “the physical and emotional safety of our customers and ourselves.” Hasta Muerte Coffee took a victory lap last month on social media, touting customers who traveled far out of their way to support the cause. Though a direct cause was not given, Oakland has long been an epicenter of demonstrations against police treatment of people of color.

But at least on Facebook and Twitter, that stance was anything but popular, with many pro-police supporters outraged over the show of disrespect.

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.

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