Calls to boycott Starbucks grew louder this weekend following an incident in Arizona where a Starbucks employee asked a group of police officers to leave the coffee shop because a customer reportedly felt unsafe, the Arizona Republic reports.
Since Friday, the hashtag #DumpStarbucks has been trending on social media sites such as Twitter.
According to the Tempe Officers Association, five officers gathered for coffee before their shift on July 4 at a Tempe, Arizona, Starbucks when a barista approached them and said a customer complained about their presence.
Don't appreciate @Starbucks asking our #Tempe cops to leave your establishment on the #4thofjuly2019. Several of those cops are #veterans who fought for this country! #ZeroRespect pic.twitter.com/oGaDKhlYX3
— Tempe Officers Association (@ToaAz) July 5, 2019
The barista told the officers they could move out of the customer’s line of sight or leave the cafe, and they chose to leave.
The police union subsequently tweeted about the incident with an image that read “Dump Starbucks” using a similar design of the company’s logo and coffee being poured out.
The hashtag soon went viral and prompted mixed responses.
Kaya Jones, the Grammy-winning singer, wrote, “If you feel unsafe around cops you’re a criminal.”
— Kaya Jones (@KayaJones) July 6, 2019
Others on social media defended the patron and noted that Tempe Officer Joseph Jaen shot and killed a 14-year-old boy who was running away from him in January. Jaen later resigned and the matter is still under investigation.
Tempe is also near Phoenix, where a police officer held a family at gunpoint in May because their young daughter left a store without paying for a Barbie doll.
One person tweeted, “Maybe people should ask themselves why is it that American citizens are increasingly feeling uncomfortable with police presence? What are they doing? I’ve never heard of firefighters or EMTs being denied service.”
Rob Ferraro, president of the Tempe police union, said the incident was disheartening.
“It’s become accepted to not trust or to see police and think that we’re not here to serve you,” he told FOX10.
“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.”
Reggie Borges, a Starbucks spokesperson, told the Republic that the company is investigating the incident but has “deep respect for the Tempe Police and their service to the community.”
“We’ve reached out to the Tempe Police Department and Tempe Officers Association to better understand what happened and apologize,” Borges said. “We want everyone in our stores to feel welcomed and the incident described is not indicative of what we want any of our customers to feel in our stores.”
Starbucks Executive Vice President Rossann Williams later told the newspaper that the treatment of the officers was “completely unacceptable.” They should have been “welcomed and treated with dignity and the utmost respect by our partners (employees),” she said.
Neither the customer or barista have been named publicly; Starbucks has not disclosed whether the employee has been disciplined.
Police officials on Saturday tweeted that they hope the incident was isolated.
“Police officers make great sacrifices to keep their communities safe during the holidays, such as the Fourth of July, so others can enjoy the day with their family and friends. The Tempe Police Department will continue, at all times, to reduce harm within our community.”
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[Featured image: Pixabay]