Red and Black Café
co-owner John Langley, whose decision
to kick a cop out of his Southeast Portland establishment got national attention,
defended himself today against criticisms that his actions were discriminatory.
“Racism is directed toward people who have less power in society," Langley said at a news conference. "People choose to be police officers, but people with color are people with color all the time.”
He said his decision to "86" police officer James Crooker on May 18 came about because customers felt uncomfortable with the officer's presence.
“I don't have anything against this particular officer and I don't know anything about him…A police officer in uniform makes people feel unsafe because of previous experiences,” says Langley, who describes his café as an “anarchist space.”
Langley said many of his customers are homeless and marginalized by the police. “We're gonna value the people that have been victims of police violence. Some of them have talked about having their belongings being taken away or sprayed with water,” he said. “It is exacerbated by the situation in Portland right now. The response to the mental health crisis is shooting people and beating people to death.”
At least one man showed up to the news conference expecting an apology from Langley.
“You expect peace from that? You're putting a thorn in this place,” says P.J. Mulcahy. He was dismayed that a police officer could get a cup of coffee in plain clothes, but would be banned in uniform.
“What the difference?" Mulcahy said. "It's the same guy.”
Langley's action also caught the attention of the Oregon tea party's Geoffrey Ludt
who made a trip to the café to film this video