If you’re a cop in Oakland, don’t bother going to Hasta Muerte Coffee.
The worker-owned coffee shop and self-proclaimed radical book store refused service to a uniformed police officer Feb. 16 and is defending its policy because the California business believes, as it said in an Instagram posting, “police presence compromises our feeling of physical & emotional safety.”
The officer who was turned away is a sergeant and president of the Latino Police Officers Association of Alameda County, according to CNN affiliate KCRA. He told KCRA he was surprised he was refused service, and he walked out without incident. The officer was not named in the KCRA report.
Attempts to reach coffee shop personnel and officials with the Oakland Police Department were unsuccessful Friday.
The 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.”
Hasta Muerte Coffee’s owners posted to their Instagram, stating they had “a policy of asking police to leave for the physical and emotional safety of our customers and ourselves.” They went on to accuse the police department of having a history of “corruption, mismanagement and scandal” along with a “legacy of blatant repression.” The owners also said the shop needs the support the community, not the police, to keep their business safe. The shop also posted a photo of other posts criticizing its decision with the words “not my president” plastered over them.
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.
The officer’s race or his affiliation with a Latino organization meant nothing, the shop’s post said, and the department’s “short term touting” of having less officer-involved shootings didn’t erase the department’s history.
“The facts are that poc (people 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 post read.
Hasta Muerte Coffee’s name is Spanish for “until death.” The shop began raising money to fund its opening in late 2016 through the crowdsourcing site KickStarter. The business has shared a space with another tenant since its founding, but opened its own building in November 2017.