Oakland cafe won’t sell coffee to police
Officers say policy offers educational opportunity
After learning that a new Oakland coffee shop is refusing to serve uniformed officers, Oakland police officials said Friday they want to use the incident as an educational opportunity for new recruits.
“I think their position is very clear that they don’t want the police in there, and I can respect that,” said Sgt. Bryan Hubbard, vice president of the Police Officers’ Association who also runs the department’s training academies. “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.”
Last month, when Oakland Sgt. Robert Trevino walked into the coffee collective, Hasta Muerte, Spanish for “until death,” a barista told him the establishment doesn’t serve police officers.
Trevino is the Alameda County chapter president of the national Latino Peace Officers Association and works in the predominantly Latino Fruitvale neighborhood where the shop is located.
The cafe, which opened several months ago
after a successful crowdfunding campaign, has a mural outside to memorialize Oscar Grant and others killed in police shootings. Hubbard said he hadn’t spoken with Trevino to know his true reason for going in — “aside from getting a cup of coffee, of course.”
“Knowing him personally, he highly values community policing and he’s known as going out and building relationships with merchants,” Hubbard said.
City Councilman Noel Gallo, who represents the Fruitvale district and has known Trevino since his youth, said the sergeant was doing exactly what he wanted more police to do: introducing themselves to local businesses, neighbors and schools and patrolling on foot or bike.
“We need to work together, and that’s what we’re trying to do with law enforcement,” Gallo said, adding that the corner has been “challenged for years” with crime. “At the end of the day, when that cafe gets robbed or shot up or whatever, we’re going to have to call the police.”
Gallo said he will reach out to Hasta Muerte and police officials next week “to see if we can work something out to trust each other, or at least get along."
The Oakland fire union has asked its members to refrain from going to the shop out of solidarity with police officers.
Trevino mentioned his espresso rejection to Sgt. Barry Donelan, president of the police association, who then sent a letter to Hasta Muerte, asking it to clarify its policy on whether it serves officers.
“Obviously, this is both a surprise and a matter of concern for all Oakland Police Officers,” Donelan wrote. “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.”
The collective didn’t respond directly, but posted on Instagram a picture saying in Spanish, “Talk with your neighbors, not the police” alongside an X’ed out police badge.
The post went on to affirm that Hasta Muerte does not serve police because “police presence compromises our feeling of physical & emotional safety.”
“Since then, cop supporters are trying to publicly shame us online with low reviews because this particular police visitor was Latino,” the shop wrote.
“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.”
Hasta Muerte did not return a request for comment.
Hubbard said he and Trevino — who teaches a section in the academy on racial diversity — will use the incident during training to drive home the point that “it doesn’t matter how people feel about the police, you have to treat everyone equally.”
The Police Department said on Twitter it respects business owners’ rights and that it was reaching out to “have constructive dialogue.”
“Working in a diverse city like this where there’s mixed feelings about the police, we’re used to it,” Hubbard said. “I didn’t lose any sleep over it.”
This mural is on a wall outside of Hasta Muerte Coffee in Oakland, which refuses to serve police officers.