On July 4, six law enforcement officials walked right into a Starbucks in Tempe, Ariz., paid for his or her orders, then stood close to the doorway of the shop to drink their espresso. A white, male buyer reportedly expressed discomfort to a barista at seeing the group of white law enforcement officials standing there, and based on a Starbucks spokesperson, the barista, after initially telling the shopper that the officers have been regulars, requested them to maneuver to a distinct a part of the shop.
The Tempe Officers Affiliation wrote on Fb that the barista instructed the officers {that a} buyer “didn’t really feel secure” on account of their presence and requested them to depart or transfer out of the shopper’s line of sight. “Disillusioned, the officers did in actual fact depart,” the put up continued. “This remedy of public security staff couldn’t be extra disheartening. Whereas the barista was well mannered, making such a request in any respect was offensive. Sadly, such remedy has develop into all too widespread in 2019.”
That final sentence is most telling, rehashing the Blue Lives Matter motion that has emerged in recent times as a counter to Black Lives Matter: a story that implies that members of the regulation enforcement are the actual victims of a political local weather during which activists protest the police killing of unarmed black folks. The Tempe Officers Affiliation’s aggrieved observe displays that sense of persecution, significantly on Twitter, the place the hashtag #DumpStarbucks began to realize traction over the weekend, borrowing the phrase from a mock Starbucks brand the regulation enforcement group tweeted that depicted a hand dumping a cup of Starbucks espresso.

The best-wing media, conservative public figures, and Blue Lives Matter itself seized on that throughline of indignation, echoing condemnation towards Starbucks for the perceived lack of respect. Starbucks shortly issued an apology that capitulated to their sense of injustice: “When these officers entered the shop and a buyer raised a priority over their presence, they need to have been welcomed and handled with dignity and the utmost respect by our companions (staff). As a substitute, they have been made to really feel unwelcome and disrespected, which is totally unacceptable.”

If all this sounds acquainted, that’s as a result of it’s: It was a bit greater than a yr in the past that the arrests of two black males at a Philadelphia Starbucks attracted nationwide consideration and protests over anti-black racial profiling. In that case, too, Starbucks apologized — as did the Philadelphia police commissioner, ultimately — then closed greater than 8,000 shops across the U.S. for a daylong racial bias coaching.
This newest Starbucks incident and final yr’s are solely superficially alike, although. As Eater’s Vince Dixon wrote final yr, the arrests of these males — who stated they have been ready for an acquaintance to reach, as folks do on a regular basis at Starbucks with out being requested to depart, not to mention apprehended by the police — highlighted the stark actuality of individuals of shade, who “should continuously justify their existence, particularly in predominantly white areas.” The sociologist Elijah Anderson defines “white areas” by “their overwhelming presence of white folks and their absence of black folks.” When black folks enter these areas, Anderson writes, they’re typically required to point out further proof, like an ID, in a means that “would by no means be demanded of whites.” After they refuse, issues can flip ugly, as will be seen in any variety of on a regular basis incidents — barbecuing, consuming lunch, strolling outdoors — during which folks have been stopped, questioned, arrested, and generally killed for merely current whereas black.
Blue Lives Matter grew, as journalist Dara Lind detailed for Vox, from the notion that law enforcement officials have been a persecuted group hated by a radical public and President Barack Obama’s administration. Following two high-profile ambush-style assaults on law enforcement officials during which a number of officers have been killed, it metastasized into the concept “criticism of law enforcement officials places their lives at risk.” Vocal proponents of Blue Lives Matter have made it a “zero-sum” sport, taking any slight or “implication that police might do extra to assist communities of shade” as an affront that endangers officers’ lives, though, as Lind factors out, the central tenets of Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter — improved police-community relations and officer security, respectively — usually are not mutually unique. The tip consequence, as historian Matthew Guariglia wrote for the Washington Submit, is a coalescing of officers into a gaggle united by a shared camaraderie, accompanied by an growing sense of “us versus them” within the face of criticism or requires accountability.
The concept that there’s such a factor as “blue lives” conflates a job, which one chooses to do, with race, gender, sexuality, incapacity, and so forth. It’s a false equivalency — one which has however gained traction within the nation’s governing our bodies with payments that might make the police a protected class — that makes the fitting’s response to final week’s Starbucks incident ring disingenuous, when held up towards the policing of individuals of shade in public areas, as within the case of the Philadelphia Starbucks final yr, or within the case of the police drawing weapons on an unarmed black household in Phoenix final month.
In an more and more militarized tradition that has traditionally given regulation enforcement free reign and the advantage of the doubt, typically on the expense of the civilians they’re speculated to serve and shield, law enforcement officials being requested to depart a public area like Starbucks is, at most, an inconvenience. It is a chance to contemplate why some could really feel such discomfort across the police to start with. What it isn’t is a trigger for ethical outrage.

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