Where’s a cop when you need one? That’s a common observation made when one has been victimized. Maybe they’re busy elsewhere. Police can’t be everywhere. And, of course, careful victimizers consider where cops are and aren’t before victimizing.
One place where we know the police aren’t is Hasta Muerte Coffee in Oakland, California. We know this because it’s the store’s policy to kick out any police officer who shows up to buy a cup of joe.
Recently, a uniformed Oakland police officer went to Hasta Muerte Coffee and as the shop’s Instagram account explained, “one of our worker-owners [told him] we have a policy of asking police to leave for the physical and emotional safety of our customers and ourselves.”
They went on to whine that instead of skulking off in abashed, self-loathing to some hidden corner for repentance, as he should have done, the officer “broadcasted [sic] to his network” that he’d been refused service. That got them some bad feedback from those who don’t understand that social justice warriors (SJWs) are above reproach.
Hasta Muerte Coffee declared the flak came from friends and relatives of the officer who were either white or were adopting “the privileges whiteness affords” because they own homes or businesses. They also scorned efforts by the Oakland PD to enlist people of color, described as “poc,” and the department’s successful efforts to reduce police-involved shootings. This, the coffee collective asserts, doesn’t “reverse or mend its history of corruption, mismanagement, and scandal, nor a legacy of blatant repression.”
The cast out cop happened to be Latino, but that wasn’t enough to make him part of the acceptable clientele. Hasta Muerte Coffee said, “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.” The shop then asked for the support of the “actual community to keep this place safe, not police.” They especially needed this support because the shop is in “an area faced [sic] by drug sales and abuse, homelessness, and toxic masculinity” and “in case we end up facing backlash because as we know OPD, unlike the community, has tons of resources … [and 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.”
A few points to consider here.
First, if you’re a criminal looking for a safe place to do what you do—well, it’s not for me to say. That would be wrong.
Next, there is the self-dramatizing of Hasta Muerte Coffee. The police terrorize and oppress them? Did the officer who was asked to leave scream sexist, homophobic, transphobic, homeless-phobic, and other phobic insults, then pistol-whip a coffee urn into spewing out a mug of hot java? No. But wailing about oppression justifies the worker-owners’ self-anointed status as heroic victims. The police are out to discredit them, poor things. Too late. They’re doing a fine job of that on their own.
The Hasta Muerte Coffee collective says they are in a dangerous area and asks the community to protect them instead of the police. By their description, their community includes drug peddlers, drug abusers, the homeless, and people afflicted with toxic masculinity, a disease unknown to science but one that sounds like it would be very uncomfortable—especially in a hot climate. Will the drug dealers protect the community from drug dealers, the drug abusers stop others from abusing, the homeless find homes for the homeless, and the toxic masculinity-afflicted adopt non-toxic femininity?
In their Instagram posting, Hasta Muerte Coffee calls upon citizens to report crimes to their neighbors and not to the police (their post features a large image of “HABLA CON TUS VECINXS NO CON LA POLICIA.”). What are the neighbors supposed to do, then? Frown sternly at the wrongdoers? Which neighbors should be called? Do they have a special phone number that can be dialed 24/7? If they want to do more than frown, are they armed and capable of dealing with a violent criminal? Will they read the arrested their rights and provide them with a lawyer if they can’t afford one? Do they have a jail—maybe in someone’s rec room or garage—in which to stick any offender they arrest? What will they do with him then?
It’s doubtful any neighbor is apt to stop a crime or detain a criminal. Instead, those who see a crime will just do the not-informing-the-police part of the coffee shop’s injunction. This anti-snitch choice protects criminals, but it doesn’t do much to help improve the community. There’s also hypocrisy here. Who believes the coffee shop would call some guy down the block instead of the police, if a robber stuck a pistol up a worker-owner’s nose and demanded the day’s receipts?
Hasta Muerte Coffee arrogantly claims to speak for the “community.” They sound a bit like Star Trek’s Borg. Those were the mind-sharing collectivists with the catchy motto “Resistance is futile” who enforced a hive existence on those they assimilated while destroying any opposition.
The Borg, however, were more egalitarian than this coffee shop. You could be any kind of sentient being, green, blue, have an odd assortment of forehead bumps, whatever, and they’d invite you into the family. The Hasta Muerte collective is more particular. The Latino cop, his fellow officers, their friends and relatives, any home-owning or business-owning “poc,” who adopts “white privilege,” and apparently, all non-woke white people need not apply.
The SJW policy of exclusion is, curiously, an assimilation device. They stigmatize others to force greater and greater conformity within their group. The others are an Irredeemable, Deplorable Boogeyman whose evil plans must be resisted. Even the slightest hint that you might be at all conversant with the Bogeyman is enough to get you cast out from the collective. Always agree with everything the community believes, or it’s no coffee for you. The result is a group whose members strive to conform more and more and seek out new ways new to stigmatize nonconformity. Unchecked, this produces genuine oppression.
On February 1, 1960, four black college students sat down at Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. It was the store’s policy to refuse to serve blacks at the counter. Perhaps, like the Hasta Muerte Coffee worker-owners, they claimed to fear for “the physical and emotional safety of our customers and ourselves.” The black college students refused to leave and their sit-in led to a six-month-long protest in the city. The Woolworth lunch counter was desegregated thanks to this, and that victory helped America see segregation as an evil thing. Real social progress was made. It’s something Hasta Muerte Coffee needs to remember.