Vegan cafe
  • Vegan cafe
I just took a jaunt down to the Red and Black Cafe on SE 12th, where a co-owner kicked out a cop last month because he "felt uncomfortable" having him there. The event was picked up by Gawker yesterday, and hit CNN today.

I went down to the "vegan, worker owned, collectively owned, IWW closed-shop" operation this afternoon to see how the patrons felt about the media explosion about the incident.

I spoke to a smiling, red-bearded flannel-wearing fella who was rolling a cigarette at a picnic bench outside the cafe. He said he was there when the cop came in, but wouldn't give his name.

"He walked in with a bit of a swagger. I was standing outside and he was like 'How's the coffee?' and I was like 'Really?' I think he wanted to be a bully in a passive-aggressive way."

Of the incident, he said that it was great that co-owner John Langley "took the initiative to protect the space."

"A lot of people here have personal conflicts with the police. Like me, I sleep on the streets, I carry my bag around, I don't know what a cop is thinking when he looks at me. I know he'd probably kick me out of wherever I'm sleeping for the night."

When Cornelia Seigneur began talking to the cop, as she said, telling him that she appreciated what the police do, the witness said he was "like woaaah." The Red and Black Cafe, to him, is a safe space.

"In a city where there's not many places for people like this to go, [the Red and Black] is a place where people with similar views support those with good intentions."

"Anarchists are sweet, soft-hearted people, who take personal responsibility" for what is wrong with "the system," he said.

"I believe that civilization is the root cause of all oppression."

The flannel-clad environmental anarchist told me he was a writer of poetry and mysticism (though he rejects money and thus does not have a job or a house). He blogs at New York-based New Old Traditions, and is a regular at Red and Black Cafe.

I spoke to another man outside name Jerome, who had not heard about the incident but said the cops don't offend him.

"I wouldn't be offended if a cop rode up. I've even been to jails and stuff a few times. "

I went in to the cafe to talk to a proprietor, but the dreadlocked woman with a Hello Kitty tattoo behind the counter took one look at my notepad and turned me away.

"No, we're not taking any reporters."