When you think of police, they are usually considered protectors of the community, but one business owner in Oakland, California doesn't see it that way. Hasta Muerte Coffee in the Fruitvale District has decided to ban police from the premises and refuses to serve them.
The first time an officer found out about the ban was when an Oakland police sergeant stopped by the cafe to introduce himself and buy a cup of coffee. When he entered the cafe he was denied service simply for being an officer of the law.
The Oakland police union sent a letter to the business saying that staff told the sergeant the cafe "does not serve the police. Obviously, this is both a surprise and a matter of concern for all Oakland police officers."
Local resident Roberto Lopez said he was shocked by the ban saying, "I don't know what they got against them." Another member of the community said, "I think it's cold-blooded. I don't understand that." The ban draws questions about how the agency will respond if they are ever dispatched to the cafe.
Hasta Muerte Coffee has not responded to the letter sent by the Oakland police union several weeks ago and the owners declined to comment to local media. Oakland City Councilmember Noel Gallo investigated the claim that the business does not serve law enforcement and found it is the business' unwritten policy not to serve police officers.
"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."
The cafe was opened just a few months ago at on Fruitvale Avenue and it is not the typical coffee shop as denoted by its name which means "until death" in Spanish. It is described as a worker-owned collective with an anti-establishment policy. Paintings on the business depict fatal police shootings and protest law enforcement militarization.
Local resident Tenaya Gunter Brown had another take on the matter, "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."
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