Now that the fever of the Chocolati story has subsided, we can examine it and its consequences with the sophistication of a modality (or a being-in-the-world) that is cosmopolitan in the truest sense. (I will explain the meaning of this kind of cosmopolitanism, which is the true flower of urban existence, in another post.)
As everyone knows, a worker at Chocolati cafe, a joint in Wallingford, decided not to serve two cops. The officers shared this incident with Ari Hoffman at The Post Millennial. They claimed the worker told them to their faces: "No, I won’t serve you." In under a week, the incident went viral on the right like there was no tomorrow. Initially, the owner of Chocolati, Christian Wong, did the Seattle thing. He understood the workers' BLM feelings/position (considering our times) and colored the moment as a potential learning experience for all.
But after pressure from the right became too great, Wong relented (or, to use the words of New York Post, did "an about-face"), and effectively fired the worker, who the Daily Mail, which is based all the way in the UK, described as a "white female with green streaks in her hair."
hey btw stop supporting that chocolate place, they fired the employee that turned away SPD and the owner is a bootlicker. #seattleprotests pic.twitter.com/P06R9kfIAD
— fawn 🦌 | 1312 (@dangerglitter) May 2, 2021
I'm not sure if Wong had much of a choice in this matter. The saber-rattling on the right was deafening, and the left was essentially lukewarm about this incident. We also live in a time when Asian Americans are frequently attacked because of the way white supremacists like Donald Trump described the virus (“Kung Flu”).
That said, the worker should still have her job for one good reason: Cops who do much worse than this worker are almost never fired or pressured to resign.
An example of this kind is not at all hard to find. There is right now a sheriff in Pierce County who on January 27 endangered the life of a black man working a paper route in the early hours of the morning by seeing and describing him as a violent threat. The black man, Sedrick Altheimer, was not a threat at all, but Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer's claim that he was triggered, by way of 911, an emergency response that involved a stunning "42 officers, deputies and troopers."
As far as I can tell, the New York Post and the Daily Mail have not reported about the Tacoma newspaper incident, which, unlike what happened in Chocolati, was potentially deadly. But Troyer is still working. He still has a job. He still goes to work. He can still pay bills with money from the public.
Sergeant Darren Moss, the Pierce County Sheriff Public Information Officer, did, however, point out to me in an email that no one in the department can remove Troyer because he is "an elected official." That is for the higher ups. (Troyer, by direction from Governor Jay Inslee himself, is currently being investigated by the Attorney General's Office for the newspaper incident.) But it is always something when it comes to keeping bad cops in the department. And not only is Troyer a regular baddie, he is really, really that kind of bad.
As Kari Plog at KNKX reported on May 3, Troyer recently refused a request to remove those awful—and, for many, blatantly racist (or white supremacist)—"thin blue line" stickers from police cars that service, at the cost of $3.5 million a year, Pierce Transit.
Sue Dreier, the CEO of Pierce Transit, told Toyer of her real concern that the stickers were "symbols [that] have become polarizing and divisive... [e]specially to people of color." After ignoring her for over two months, Troyer eventually responded:
March 12, 2021
After thoughtful consideration, I am respectfully denying your request to remove the flag stickers from our patrol vehicles which are currently assigned to Pierce Transit Police. The thin blue line image has been used by law enforcement throughout our country for over 60 years to represent those who stand in separation of law and order from social and civil anarchy. I prefer the view held by retired Philadelphia Police and D.C. Metro Police Chief Charles Ramsey, as the seam which holds America together despite our difficulties and differences: 'I do not believe in the thin blue line as it denotes a separation of the people and the police, instead I believe in the thin blue thread. The blue thread is one of many which is woven into the fabric which makes up our community.'
This guy still has a job. The chocolate worker lost theirs. When one reaches this understanding, it will be clear why many in Seattle have sympathy for the latter. This worker did the right thing. They made it clear to cops that policing as it is today is political. You do not work for us. You work for them and yourselves.
(Update: Niklaus Aauroraa, a manager at the store, said the employee resigned. "Both the owner and myself stood by her right to refuse service to the police and support her in this. Her decision isn't an action we seek to make policy, but it is a right we take seriously," he said.)