Showing a policeman the door turned out -- inadvertently -- to be a good business decision for the Red and Black Cafe in Southeast Portland.I'm a libertarian, so I am sometimes critical of the police, but it is just stupid for a business owner to refuse service to police officers. First, every society, even an all-white libertarian one, would require someone to enforce the law. Also, the presence of police deters crime. This is why many restaurants will give discounts to police officers and why QuikTrip provides them with free donuts. Criminals are less likely to rob a place when there could be a police officer present.
The vegan establishment was deluged with customers in the two days after news came out last week that one of the co-owners had served coffee to a Portland police officer, then kicked him out.
"We had a couple of really busy days over the weekend," said John Langley, the co-owner who served Officer James Crooker and asked him to leave. "We had two $1,100 days, which is maybe double a typical day."
The story sparked a fiery response, with national coverage and about 600 comments posted on oregonlive.com. Along with a boost in customers, the cafe has received five threats of arson and other violence.
Many people also expressed outrage at Langley's treatment of Crooker, who's received an outpouring of support on the streets.
All that after buying a quick coffee on May 18. Crooker was walking out of the cafe when he was approached by a customer, Cornelia Seigneur, who said she appreciated the work of Portland police. Langley, who was watching, said seeing a uniformed officer in the cafe made him uncomfortable. So he went up and asked Crooker to leave, which he did.
And that was that, until Seigneur blogged about it, and the story went viral.
Langley said that most of the criticism has come from people threatening never to eat at the cafe. "I think most of those folks are people who had never or would never come to the restaurant," he said.
The cafe hasn't suffered any vandalism or any other attacks, and Langley doesn't expect any, either. "It would be highly ironic if there were because the folks who are the most upset about this are presumably those who are in support of the police," he said, "so it would be weird for them to commit crimes."
Although business has picked up, some customers voiced support for police. "I wouldn't even think twice about it if a police officer came in here for a bite, maybe to make sure things are running OK," said Stacey Tran, who lives in the neighborhood and was at the cafe Monday. "That's part of their job. It's what our tax dollars go toward."
Online commenters have asked what the cafe's seven co-owners would do if they were attacked. Call the police?
"I don't think we are trying to be purists about it," Langley said. "We would prefer that there be some practical alternative to police like community forums for restorative justice, for example."
At a news conference Monday, Langley rejected criticism that he had discriminated against the officer. "In no way does this compare to racial profiling or racism," he said. "A person can choose to be a police officer but a person of color cannot."
Langley said earlier that many of the customers in the cafe, which draws vegans and environmental and animal rights activists, have been victims of harsh police tactics and were worried about police shootings.
A member of Rose City Copwatch, a police monitoring group, backed up that sentiment at the news conference, saying in a statement that Portland police are focused on arresting people "to maintain a status quo that is built along race, class and gender lines."
Still, Langley said police officers are welcome in the cafe out of uniform. "It's not personal," he said.
Nor did Crooker take the incident to heart. In fact, the reaction has been heartening, he said.
He's received calls from police officers from New York and Washington state offering to buy him, even the entire bureau, coffee. Portlanders have approached him on the street offering to treat him to coffee as well.
"Every single police officer in the area has been receiving the same love from the citizens and that's heartwarming," Crooker said.
None of his colleagues is angry about the incident, he said.
"I don't know of any police officers who have any ill will towards the cafe owner or anyone who's involved in this," Crooker said. "Hopefully everyone walks away from this graciously with the lessons that life has taught us and nobody has any bad feelings about anything."
-- Lynne Terry
-- Kate Mather and Shane Dixon Kavanaugh contributed to this story.
Left-wing anarchofags (it's not so much of a slur as it is an accurate description - I bet most of the workers and customers are lesbian, bisexual, gay, transexual, pansexual, or something else) like these are particularly hypocritical. They hate the police, yet they whine about how horrible the Tea Party movement is for wanting to cut taxes and "social services."
I thought the comment on abolishing the police and supporting "practical alternative to police like community forums for restorative justice" was particularly naive. These anarchofags should be careful what they wish for. If the police were abolished, in Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle, community forums (and high crime rates) would probably result, but in other parts of the country, the police would be replaced with shotgun blasts, beatings, tarring-and-featherings, and nooses. Undoubtably, the anarchofags would complain about this, just as they do whenever a citizen shoots an armed robber.
Instead of hiding behind a facade of anarchism and anti-authoritarianism, the anarchofags should just be honest and admit that they don't hate the police, but instead they love criminals.