When an Oakland, California coffee “collective” announced that it would no longer serve cops, because a law enforcement presence in the cafe “compromises our feeling of physical & emotional safety,” Oakland police decided to use it as a way of teaching equality and respect to their neighbors.
Last month, the Hasta Muerte coffee collective made their feelings about uniformed police known when they refused to serve Oakland Sgt. Robert Trevino. The “poc collectively run, worker-owned coffee shop” claims, on their website, that they have a “warm and inclusive atmosphere” for all people in their local community, but doubled down on their anti-police policy this week, posting a photo of an X’ed out police badge on Instagram with the words, “Talk with your neighbors, not the police.”
But Trevino and his fellow officers say they are part of that neighborhood, and Trevino’s supervisor claims Trevino wasn’t even looking to buy coffee, but to extend his community policing efforts, trying to establish a relationship with Hasta Muerte (which opened only recently), and build trust.
“Knowing him personally, he highly values community policing and he’s known as going out and building relationships with merchants,” one of Trevino’s friends, an Oakland City Councilman, told SF Gate.
To that end, the local PD is using the service denial as a “teaching moment” and a way of instructing new recruits on how to set an example for the surrounding community by practicing actual tolerance, and exhibiting respect for their neighbors.
“I think their position is very clear that they don’t want the police in there, and I can respect that,” the sergeant in charge of the Oakland police academy told the paper. “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.”
To drive home their level of concern, the police department — along with members of the Oakland City Council — reached out to Hasta Muerte to begin a dialogue about how police can better get to know the neighborhood, and how law enforcement officials can better serve those in need. The City Council says they want to use the meeting to begin a healing process, “to see if we can work something out to trust each other, or at least get along.”
The Oakland police academy says it will use Hasta Muerte as an example in its racial diversity training program to demonstrate that “it doesn’t matter how people feel about the police, you have to treat everyone equally.”
Hasta Muerte, however, isn’t interested in coming to the table.
“Since [the incident], cop supporters are trying to publicly shame us online with low reviews because this particular police visitor was Latino,” the shop wrote on Facebook, according to SF Gate. “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.”