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Calif. bakery bans armed officers, union says

The bakery said it has a policy “to not serve anyone that is armed in a uniform,” adding that officers are welcome “when they are off duty and not armed”

San Francisco Police

AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File

By Alec Regimbal
SFGate, San Francisco

SAN FRANSISCO — The San Francisco Police Officers Association is claiming that Reem’s California refused to serve an officer last weekend as part of a supposed company policy that says the popular Arab street food restaurant and bakery chain will not serve anyone who is armed and in uniform.

In a social media post Thursday, the police union shared what appeared to be an email from a representative at the company. It said: “At Reem’s we do have a policy to not serve anyone that is armed in a uniform. All officers are welcome to come to our establishment when they are off duty and not armed.” It’s unclear who sent the union that email, as the sender’s email address was blacked out in the photo the union shared.

“NO COPS ALLOWED. That’s the confirmed policy of the bakery chain Reem’s,” the union said in its post. “One of our officers was denied service last weekend because he was in uniform. Reem’s confirms that they will not serve anyone armed and in uniform. Presumably, this includes members of the US Military.”

The union also shared what appears to be a screenshot of an Instagram post from an account operated by the bakery’s Mission location. In the photo, a sign posted in a window says, “Existing while black should not be a death sentence. Don’t call the cops.”

“We are not asking Reem’s or any business with a bigoted policy to serve our officers,” the union said in a second social media post. “We’re asking them to own their discriminatory policy & and put up a sign so we know not to spend money in your establishment—on or off duty.”

In a statement sent to SFGATE, Reem’s said its policy is meant to keep guns out of its stores as a way to ensure the safety of its employees. However, the statement did not speak to the accuracy of the police union’s claim.

“Reem’s has a deep commitment to uplifting social and racial justice in our communities,” the statement said. “This includes fostering an environment of safety for our staff and customers. In a time of increased gun violence — particularly impacting people of color, youth, and queer people — we believe that maintaining a strict policy of prohibiting guns in our restaurant keeps us safer.”

It added: “Many members of our community have been impacted by gun violence, whether that be an experience on the streets of San Francisco or Oakland, having come from war or occupation, or having increased fear due to a growing climate of political extremism. All too often, Black and brown people, and poor people are the victims of this violence. At Reem’s we aim to provide a space where people can eat delicious Arab food and work together to strengthen our community, without fear of violence or harassment. We invite our community to step up and join us in creating that culture of care and resilience.”

In an email to SFGATE after publication, Tracy McCray — the president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association — disputed Reem’s statement to this outlet. McCray said the union was explicitly told that the bakery chain has a policy prohibiting those that are “armed in a uniform.”

“That is not our interpretation of their policy. That is exactly what they said their policy was. That is what their employee told our officer,” McCray said. "... And this is our point, if you’re going to have policies that discriminate against one group of people, then own it, post it publicly, and let your potential customers make the decision that best reflects their values.”

If the union’s claims are true, Reem’s California would be the latest Bay Area eatery to come under fire for refusing to serve police officers. In 2021, the owners of the all-day brunch restaurant Hilda and Jesse apologized amid public backlash after three uniformed San Francisco police officers were asked to leave the establishment. Earlier this year, a cashier at Pizza Squared was fired after he told several police officers that they were not welcome at the business.

Reem’s operates a bakery in Oakland and a kiosk at the Ferry Building in addition to its location in the Mission, which is temporarily closed according to the company’s website. Chef-founder Reem Assil is a social justice activist and former community organizer. In 2022, she was a finalist for a James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef.


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