San Francisco police accuse Arab bakery of discrimination due to 'no guns rule'

San Francisco police accuse Arab bakery of discrimination due to 'no guns rule'
Police officers in San Francisco are accusing an Arab bakery of discrimination due to the establishment's no-guns policy. They have taken to social media to complain, with one post appearing to threaten the bakery.
3 min read
Washington, D.C.
01 September, 2023
An Arab bakery in San Francisco is making headlines for refusing to serve on-duty police officers. [Getty]

Police officers in San Francisco are accusing an Arab bakery of discrimination due to the establishment's no-guns policy, which the police say is clearly aimed at them.

Last week, members of the San Francisco's Police Officers Association complained on social media that they were being refused service at Reem's California, a popular bakery in the city's heart. 

"NO COPS ALLOWED. That's the confirmed policy of the bakery chain Reem's. 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," reads a 24 August post by the SFPOA on X (formerly Twitter).

"We are not asking Reem's or any business with a bigoted policy to serve our officers. 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. We took the liberty of designing one for them," the association continued.

They then posted their own sign reading: DON'T CALL THE COPS, taken by many online to mean that they should not expect law enforcement protection if they face danger.

Following the police association's inflammatory statement, they clarified, according to the San Francisco Standard.

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In an email, they said that "while businesses have the right, within the constraints of the law, to decide who they will and will not serve, the San Francisco Police Department remains steadfast in its commitment to meeting the public safety needs of ALL residents, businesses and visitors to our city no matter who they are."

Reem's is currently closed to the public, which the establishment said was for their team to go on vacation. What appears to be their X account is not publicly accessible.

According to its website, the eatery was founded by award-winning chef Reem Assil, a Palestinian-Syrian who was inspired by memories of the smells of freshly made bread in Beirut. She describes her business as fostering culture, community, social justice and sustainability.

"Reem's is an Arab street corner bakery that connects people across cultures and experiences through the warmth of bread and hospitality," according to the website.

"We believe in the power of food to build a strong, resilient community. Our vision is to be an anchor space that provides good jobs, delicious, nourishing food, and a home to many." 

It is not unusual for restaurants to have anti-gun policies, particularly in politically left cities like San Francisco. However, that generally does not apply to on-duty police officers, who are typically welcomed into restaurants for their security presence, often being served free of charge.

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However, according to Assil and some of the bakery's customers, not everyone feels safe in the presence of police, particularly those from marginalised communities.

"Reem's has a deep commitment to uplifting social and racial justice in our communities," reads a 25 August Instagram statement by Reem's California. 

"This includes fostering an environment of safety for our staff and customers. In a time of increased gun violence — particularly impacting people of colour, youth, and queer people — we believe that maintaining a strict policy of prohibiting guns in our restaurant keeps us safer."

The bakery continued, "Many members of our community have been impacted by gun violence, whether that be experience on the streets of San Francisco having come from war or occupation, or having increased fears due to a growing climate of political extremism. All too often, Black and brown people and poor people are the victims of this violence."

This isn't the first time police officers have complained about being refused service due to an establishment's anti-gun rules, a policy that tends to divide communities.