After a group of five police officers were asked to leave a Starbucks because they made a customer “feel unsafe,” a police union urged others to boycott the coffee chain. The hashtag #DumpStarbucks started trending after the police union used it in a post, with some users using the hashtag to express their appreciation of law enforcement officers.
The Tempe, Arizona police officers were asked to move out of the line of sight of a particular customer or leave the Starbucks by a barista on July 4 after the customer complained that they “didn’t feel safe” with the cops present.
Rob Ferraro, the president of the Tempe Police union, believes that how the officers were treated is a troubling sign of the time and called on others to boycott Starbucks.
Many Twitter users agreed with Ferraro’s sentiment. According to a report by the Daily Mail, Kaya Jones, a Grammy-winning vocalist, wrote a tweet that featured the hashtag. The message said, “If you feel unsafe around cops you’re a criminal.”
Another Twitter user expressed appreciation for law enforcement officers, writing: “Thank You Police Officers For Keeping America Safe.”
However, some others pointed out that the Tempe Police, on January 15, shot Antonio Arce, a 14-year-old boy, who was running away from them. At the time of the incident, Arce was carrying a BB gun and was allegedly attempting to burglarize a truck.
Police say that Officer Joseph Jaen, the cop who shot Arce, believed the BB gun was a firearm and perceived the boy as a threat. However, body cam footage suggests that Arce didn’t turn toward or point the BB gun at Jaen.
“Maybe people should ask themselves why is it that American citizens are increasingly feeling uncomfortable with police presence?” wrote a Twitter user. “What are they doing? I’ve never heard of firefighters or EMTs being denied service.”
“It’s telling that your tweet thread offers not a word of consideration for the customer’s discomfort, instead focusing on the injustice to the officers,” wrote another user in response to the police union’s post. “Isn’t your main job to serve and protect your community? Maybe your tweets reveal the true problem.”
“It’s become accepted to not trust or to see police and think that we’re not here to serve you,” said Ferraro.
“And again, it goes back to – we take great pride of the level of customer service we provide to citizens, and to be looked at as feeling unsafe when you have law enforcement around you is somewhat perplexing to me.”
The police union also described the incident as “disheartening,” writing in a tweet: “While the barista was polite, making such a request at all was offensive. Unfortunately, such treatment has become all too common in 2019.”