At a Dunkin’ Donuts in Providence, R.I., Friday, a local police officer was handed a cup with “#blacklivesmatter” written on the side. In Hartford, Conn., Saturday, a Dunkin’ employee reportedly told a police officer waiting in line, “We don’t serve cops here.”
Reactions to the two incidents – part of a number of individual acts of resistance in various food establishments across the country – once more highlighted the rift between law enforcement and the black community, and those who support each side. Similar incidents have occurred at a Whataburger in Texas, an Arby’s in Miami, and a Chipotle in New York.
Following the incident Saturday, dozens took to Twitter to call for a boycott of Dunkin’ Donuts and for the employee to be fired, The Hartford Courant reported. The company tweeted a response, saying, “The crew member exhibited poor judgement and the franchisee has apologized to the police officer on behalf of Dunkin' Donuts."
In Providence, the Fraternal Order of Police condemned both the slogan and the Black Lives Matter movement as anti-police.
“Members of this Union… believe that ‘all lives matter,’ ” the group said in a statement. “The negativity displayed by the #Blacklivesmatter organization towards Police across this nation is creating a hostile environment that is not resolving any problems or issues, but making it worse for our communities.”
But activists insist that the qualifier in the slogan is critical, because it is black lives that are not being valued. As Vox’s Dara Lind explained:
The reason 'black lives matter' became a slogan to begin with was that activists felt that some people needed to be reminded that black lives mattered as much as white lives, because no one needed to be reminded white lives mattered. They were reacting to a system that assigned different levels of value to lives based on race.
Though statistics on police-related deaths can be inconsistent because of missing data, a 2014 ProPublica analysis showed young black men are 21 times more likely to be killed by police than white men. From 2010 to 2012, 14 of 15 teens who were shot while fleeing arrest were black. And in 77 percent of the deadly shootings where the circumstance was classified “undetermined,” the deceased were black, the analysis found.
Still, despite simmering tensions, efforts at peaceful protest and rebuilding public trust have taken off across the country.
The Department of Justice has undertaken steps at “collaborative reform,” pairing local law enforcement agencies with federal partners to provide training and technical assistance tailored to problems in specific communities, The Christian Science Monitor reported. The idea, the Monitor’s Patrik Jonsson wrote, is not just to criticize the police, but also “to help officers stay safe and protect citizens, as well as show that they are part of the solution.”
Efforts to increase officer diversity and foster partnerships between youth groups and police departments are underway from San Francisco to Baltimore, as well. In Atlanta, beat cop Barricia McCormick told the Monitor:
I don’t think it’s us versus them … Yeah, the media might have some people looking more closely at police and wondering. But the fact is, I get thanked more now than I did before, and I have people coming up to me just randomly telling me to be safe out there, stuff like that. And I know it’s related to what’s going on nationally, because when they approach me they usually mention something they heard on the news.