Hasta Muerte Coffee, a self-described “POC, worker-owned coffee shop & radical bookstore” in Oakland, California, is under fire for refusing to serve uniformed police officers.
The controversy began after the coffee shop refused to serve a Latino police sergeant, citing its policy of “asking police to leave for the physical and emotional safety of our customers and ourselves.”
According to the NY Daily News, the police union sent a letter to the café stating that the sergeant was refused service by the staff. The letter says that the refusal was both a surprise and concern for the Oakland police officers.
Hasta Muerte Coffee made it a point to define that their policy is to refuse service to uniformed policemen, and that their actions had nothing to do with the cop’s racial background.
“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,” Hasta Muerte Coffee said on its Instagram page.
The statement said that police who are POC, women or queer are still complicit in upholding the same law and order that routinely criminalizes and terrorizes black, brown and poor people, 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,” the statement read.
Some citizens don’t see Hasta Muerte Coffee’s policy as a good thing. Critics have said that they do not understand what the café has against police officers and have called the coffee-shop owners cold blooded.
The New York Post reported that the sergeant in question told NBC Bay Area that he was hoping to “build a better relationship” with the shop and hopes to speak with the employees.
Oakland City Council Member Noel Gallo said he did not agree with the policy but hoped to open a dialogue with the café.
“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.”
It has been reported that the Oakland Police Officers Association asked the café to “open a dialogue about its policy.”
According to CNN, the Oakland Police Department tweeted on Thursday 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.”