On Independence Day six police officers went to their usual coffee shop in Tempe, Arizona, to order and enjoy iced coffee and tea during a very hot daytime shift. Some of them were just coming off their shifts and others were just getting ready to start theirs. They were familiar customers at that particular Starbucks.
But a customer felt so worried and threatened by their presence near the takeout counter that he asked the barista on duty several times to have them leave. The barista initially told the customer, a white man, that the officers were regular customers and posed no threat to anyone. But the customer persisted in claiming the police officers were making him too agitated to enjoy his drink. Finally the barista asked the officers to move away from the serving area. The officers quietly left the establishment, all six of them.
After the news of this leaked out on Facebook and Twitter, through posts by the Policemen’s Union, Starbucks immediately sent the Tempe Police Department an apology and vowed to see that men and women in uniform would never be asked to leave one of their establishments again for anything less than a felony.
Tempe Chief of Police Sylvia Moir told reporters she views the incident as a chance to get together for a dialogue on understanding and tolerance.