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Why An Oakland Coffee Shop Is Refusing To Serve Police Officers

Hasta Muerte has a strict policy when it comes to cops. 

A coffee shop in Oakland is making news for its customer service guidelines. Hasta Muerte Coffee refuses to serve cops in a controversial act that’s opening more dialogue about police-community relations.

Oakland Sgt. Robert Trevino walked into the cafe last month and was promptly informed that cops aren't welcome in the establishment, according to SFGate.com.

Trevino is president of the Alameda, Calif. 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.

“Knowing him personally, he highly values community policing and he’s known as going out and building relationships with merchants,” Sgt. Bryan Hubbard, vice president of the Police Officers’ Association said.

Nonetheless, Hubbard respects the company’s decision. “I think their position is very clear that they don’t want the police in there, and I can respect that,” said Hubbard. “If they do call the police for any need, we’re going to respond professionally and give them the same level of service as anyone else regardless of their position.”

After learning about the policy, Sgt. Barry Donelan reached out to Haste Muerte writing that he was both surprised and concerned by their refusal to serve cops, in part because “Oakland Police Officers work tirelessly every day to serve the residents of our City.”

“I have never heard of Police Officers being refused service by an Oakland business,” Donelan reportedly wrote.

In response, Haste Muerte posted a message on Instagram explaining that the policy was put in place for the “physical and emotional safety of our customers and ourselves.”

“Cop supporters are trying to publicly shame us online with low reviews because this particular police visitor was Latino,” reads the message. “He [Trevino] 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 [and] emotional safety," the post continues. "There are those that do not share that sentiment -- be it because they have a friend or relative who is a police [officer], 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 [and] gun when it comes to police, they must accept that the burden of proof for such a claim is on them.”

The statement adds, “[OPD's] 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 cafe, which opened last year and doubles as a bookstore, is about a mile away from where Oscar Grant was shot and killed by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officer on New Years Day in 2009.

The police department's history of misconduct and corruption has been well-documented over the years. Among the most recent public issues with the department is the shooting death of 28-year-old Shaleem Tindle, who was killed in January by BART Police Officer Joseph Mateu.

In the gruesome body cam footage, Mateu can be seen running out of the BART station and towards Tindle who appears to be in a tussle with another man. Matue is heard telling them to put their hands in the air just as he opens fire, shooting Tindle in the back three times, while his hands were raised. BART's Board of Director's announced this week that Tindle's killing will be discussed at their next meeting.

See Hasta Muerte’s full police policy explanation below.

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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