- On Thursday, a Starbucks barista in Tempe, Arizona asked six Tempe police officers to leave the location after a customer told an employee that they “did not feel safe” in the cops’ presence.
- The Tempe Officer Association, an organization that works to connect the Tempe community with law enforcement, tweeted about the incident and it went viral.
- Starbucks issued an apology and officials met with Tempe Police on Monday.
- Social media had mixed reactions, some calling for a Starbucks boycott and others agreeing with the barista’s decision.
A Starbucks executive flew to Tempe, Arizona to meet with the city’s police department and discuss an incident from Thursday, where a barista asked six police officers to leave the coffee shop because a customer said they “did not feel safe” with the officers there.
The Tempe Officers Association, an organization that works to connect the Tempe community with law enforcement, tweeted about the incident on Friday. The thread of tweets, which included a cartoon mocking the Starbucks logo, explained that the six officers had paid for their drinks and were waiting for them when they were approached by a barista. The cops were told that a customer “did not feel safe” with the officers there and they were asked to move or leave the shop.
2/4 and stood together having a cup of coffee before their long 4th of July shift. They were approached by a barista, who knew one of the officers by name, because he is a regular at that location. The barista said that a customer “did not feel safe” because of the police…— Tempe Officers Association (@ToaAz) July 6, 2019
3/4 ..presence. The barista asked the officers to move out of the customer’s line of sight or to leave.— Tempe Officers Association (@ToaAz) July 6, 2019
Disappointed, the officers did in fact leave.
This treatment of public safety workers could not be more disheartening. While the barista was polite, making such a request..
4/4.. at all was offensive. Unfortunately, such treatment has become all too common in 2019.— Tempe Officers Association (@ToaAz) July 6, 2019
We know this is not a national policy at Starbucks Corporate and we look forward to working collaboratively with them on this important dialogue.
A spokesperson from Starbucks, Reggie Borges, responded to the tweets and explained in a statement that the company was still gathering details about the situation.
“We have a deep respect for the Tempe Police and their service to the community,” Borges stated.
“We’ve reached out to the Tempe Police Department and Tempe Officers Association to better understand what happened and apologize. 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,” he added.
Responses From Police and Starbucks
Following Starbucks’ response, the Tempe Police Department tweeted out its own statement. In it, they explained that they had already contacted Starbucks’ Corporate Office, but hope it “was an isolated incident between one community member and a single employee rather than an entire organization.”
Starbucks spoke out again on Saturday, this time apologizing to the Tempe police in a letter from the Executive Vice President of Starbucks, Rossann Williams.
“On behalf of Starbucks, I want to sincerely apologize to you all for the experience that six of your officers had in our store on July 4,” Williams wrote. “At Starbucks, we have deep appreciation for your department and the officers who serve the Tempe community. Our partners rely on your service and welcome your presence, which keeps our stores and the community a safe and welcoming place.”
“What occurred in our store on July 4 is never the experience your officers or any customer should have, and at Starbucks, we are already taking the necessary steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again in the future,” she added.
The letter was updated on Sunday to say that Williams decided to fly to Tempe that evening in order to address all concerns in person.
Tempe Police Chief, Sylvia Moir, responded to Williams’ letter by retweeting it from her own personal account, along with a caption explaining that conflicts can be resolved with dialogue.
On Sunday, the president of the Tempe Officer Association, Rob Ferraro, responded to the incident and went on Fox News. During the interview, he explained that the department did not hold any grudges or hard feelings against Starbucks, all they wanted is for the public to respect the officers and feel safe around them.
“In our country, we’re very fortunate that there’s a growing trend towards inclusiveness and reducing intolerance,” Ferraro said. “And so whether you’re defined by your race, religion, sex, creed, the focus should be on the individual. And that same level of respect should be afforded to police officers and military.”
“Starbucks has been a partner with us. They host our discussion with law enforcement so we want those things to continue,” he added. “We’re not asking for a boycott of Starbucks, and we don’t want the employee fired, so we want to make sure that’s known. I’m a customer at Starbucks…and I’ll remain one. But hopefully, this is a learning opportunity and we can move forward and connect to our community. And hopefully, people will feel safe around law enforcement because that’s why we got into this job.”
In addition to all the responses from different officials, social media users shared mixed reactions online.
Many were very angry at the barista for asking the officers to leave and questioned why someone would be uncomfortable around police in the first place.
Others agreed with the customer and said they understood why someone may have felt unsafe in a situation like that.
Cops in Tempe seem to have a trend of participating in criminal activity. Of course people don’t feel safe around you people.— Rocky Bakari (@RockyBakari) July 8, 2019
According to local reports, Williams met with the Tempe police chief Sunday and again Monday. However, there is no confirmation about what was discussed or if the barista involved will face any punishment.
See what others are saying: (Reuters) (Fox News) (AZ Central)
Mother and Boyfriend Charged After Abandoning 3 Children in Apartment With Sibling’s Remains
Authorities said the malnourished children had been living in the unit without their parents for months.
Abandoned Children Discovered in Houston
Police in Texas arrested a mother and her boyfriend on Tuesday after finding the woman’s three children abandoned in an apartment unit with the remains of their sibling.
Authorities found the 7-, 10-, and 15-year-old boys on Sunday when the teen called police to report that his brother had been dead for a year and that his body was in the unit.
When authorities arrived at the scene, they found the children living in “deplorable conditions.” Police also found the skeletal remains of an 8-year-old, who they emphasized had been decomposing for an extended period of time.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said the boys were fending for each other, with the eldest doing his best to care for the younger ones. According to the teen, his parents hadn’t been living in the apartment with them for months.
Gonzales called it one of the most shocking cases he had ever seen in all his years in law enforcement, and many are now asking how these kids could have been suffering for so long without anyone ever noticing.
Signs That Went Unnoticed
The Daily Beast reported that the kids hadn’t been attending school since May 2020, claiming that the school even conducted an unsuccessful home visit in September of that year.
On top of that, the children had been without power for several weeks, with one neighbor telling local reporters that the teen would often charge his phone at her place.
Another neighbor, Erica Chapman, said she had once found the teen sleeping on a playground slide, so she gave him some food and drinks.
“I asked him if he was hungry. He said, ‘Yeah,’ and I brought him out some food and some drinks,” Chapman told KHOU.
She said he “wouldn’t talk about his parents,” and she didn’t push because she wanted him to feel safe coming to her if he needed food. Chapman added that she would drop off food at the apartment sometimes but said it was hard to tell what was going on inside.
Police also described a foul odor coming from the unit, which a different neighbor said she complained to management about more than once. That woman claimed the smell was so vile, she could not turn on her air conditioning.
Dianne Davis, who lived in the complex for two years, told The Houston Chronicle that the building manager performs regular inspections on the units, with the most recent one happening last week.
“How come they couldn’t detect this?” Davis told the paper. “How could that not have been found?”
Mother and Boyfriend Face Charges
According to Child Protective Services (CPS), the agency does have a history with the family, but there was no active investigation at the time the kids were discovered.
After they were found, the boys were treated at a hospital and placed with CPS while the agency seeks emergency custody of them.
At the hospital, doctors discovered fractures in the 7-year-old face and said two of the three boys were malnourished. Meanwhile, the medical examiner’s office said the deceased child suffered multiple blunt force injuries and ruled his death a homicide.
Police located the mother, 35-year-old Gloria Williams, and her boyfriend, 31-year-old Brian Coulter, on Sunday. They were interviewed and initially released without charges.
ABC13 reported that the teen texted his mother, who lived just 15 minutes, before calling the police.
On Tuesday, the couple was finally arrested while allegedly reading articles about themselves at a library. Williams, faces multiple charges, including injury to a child by omission and tampering with evidence involving a human corpse.
Meanwhile, Coulter was charged with murder over the death of the child, though both he and Williams are expected to face more charges as investigators continue to unpack the details of this case.
See what others are saying: (The Houston Chronicle) (The Daily Beast) (The Washington Post)
Man Spent COVID Relief Loan on $58,000 Pokemon Card, Feds Say
The man is facing a wire fraud charge, which carries a max sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison, along with a $250,000 fine.
COVID Relief Funds Used on Pokemon Card
Authorities have accused a man in Georgia of misusing COVID-19 relief funds, claiming that he spent $57,789 on a single Pokemon card.
Prosecutors said Vinath Oudomsine made false statements about the gross revenue his business earns and the number of workers he employs when he applied for aid authorized under the CARES Act.
On his July 2020 application, Oudomsine allegedly claimed he had 10 employees and 12-month gross revenues of $235,000.
The following month, he was given about $85,000 from the Small Business Administration (SBA), which means he spent nearly all of the money on the rare card.
Authorities have given few details about the specific card purchased, though they have said Oudomsine was charged with wire fraud and is expected to appear in court on Thursday.
The charge carries a max sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison, along with a $250,000 fine.
Misuse of COVID Relief Funds
Oudomsine is far from the first person to face charges for fraud related to small business loans issued amid the pandemic. Others who received relief funds have been accused of spending the money on Lamborghinis, nights at strip clubs, and even an alpaca farm, among other purchases.
In fact, the first person to be charged with fraudulently seeking a pandemic relief loan was recently sentenced to 56 months in prison following a nationwide search after the man faked his own death.
According to The Washington Post, a federal watchdog said this month that the SBA overpaid $4.5 billion in grants to self-employed people and that “no system of controls was in place to flag applications with flawed or illogical information.”
On top of that, the SBA inspector general determined earlier this year that the agency rushed to send out billions of dollars in loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) “at the expense of controls” that could have blocked inappropriate aid.
In a statement on Sunday, the agency said that under the Biden administration, it has worked with Congress and the inspector general to add antifraud measures. Meanwhile, defenders of pandemic relief programs have argued that flagged loans and grants represent only a small fraction of the distributed aid that has been critical to small businesses and their pandemic recovery.
See what others are saying: (NPR)(USA Today)(The Washington Post)
FDA Authorizes Moderna and J&J COVID Vaccine Boosters, Approves Mix-and-Match Doses
The approval will allow at-risk Americans who received Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to get any booster six months after their initial series and all Johnson & Johnson recipients 18 and older to do the same two months after their single-shot dose.
New FDA Authorization
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday authorized boosters shots of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines and approved a mix-and-match strategy that will allow people who got one company’s shot to get a booster from a different maker.
The decision paves the way for millions of more at-risk Americans to get extra protection, and not just certain Pfizer recipients as previously approved by the FDA.
Under the authorization, people who received Moderna or Pfizer can get any one of the three booster shots six months after completing their initial series if they are 65 and older, at high risk of severe COVID, or face increased exposure because of their work.
Meanwhile, all J&J recipients 18 and older can get any of the approved vaccines two months after they received the one-shot jab.
Hazy Recommendations, For Now
Notably, the FDA did not recommend a certain combination of vaccines, nor did the agency say whether or not it would be more effective for people to stick with their original vaccine maker for their booster.
The new authorizations draw on a study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which found that there are no safety concerns with mixing boosters and that vaccine combinations were at least as effective in stimulating antibodies as matched vaccines.
In the case of J&J recipients, the NIH found that people actually had a higher boost from mixing either Moderna or Pfizer boosters.
However, some of the scientists who worked on the study said it should not be used to recommend one combination over another because the research was limited.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which determines vaccine recommendations, could issue more guidance on when and whether people should switch vaccine makers for their booster shots.
An advisory panel for the agency is meeting Thursday to discuss the new FDA authorizations and recommendations.
Once the panel makes its decision, the CDC director has the final say on the guidelines. If the agency agrees with the FDA’s decisions, the booster shots could be rolled out as soon as this weekend.