Earlier this week, we posted a photo on social media with the message “white silence is violence.” We feel that it is our responsibility to speak out against the systemic racism and oppression that members of our Black community face everyday. We support the Black Lives Matter movement. Later this week, we posted a statement regarding a policy change, which we presented in a series of five slides.
As a staff, we have entered the conversation of racial discrimination in its many forms. This includes analyzing our policies and making changes that favor inclusion and equality.
Our policy to provide free coffee to first responders is one that we decided we needed to address, as it has increased police presence in our cafe in a way that is intimidating to those who have historically faced hostility from law enforcement. Furthermore, we feel that giving preferential treatment to authority figures perpetuates a power dynamic that is not conducive to community building. For these reasons, we are lifting the policy.
Moving forward, we will offer free coffee to K-12 teachers in the City of Rochester. It is one small way to thank our local educators for their commitment to our youth, and for their incredibly important contribution to our community.
This does not mean that we no longer welcome RPD officers; we will continue to serve them with the same respect and care that we extend to all of our guests.
In our previous statement, we expressed the need for greater accountability in law enforcement. We believe that accountability is important in any profession, especially for those in positions of authority, and that internal police review boards locally and across the country do not achieve this sufficiently. We and a vast majority of city voters supported the Police Accountability Board, and were disappointed to see it stripped of all authority. We believe that initiatives like this are a crucial step in addressing systemic racism.
At this time, we are not who we want to be: we want to be better. We want to listen, to learn and to unlearn. We commit to this as a staff. We are seeking resources to help us to identify and address our personal biases and how they impact our business and relationships. We are partnering with local organizations that believe in and fight for justice. We are exploring ways to amplify Black voices in our café through our gallery events and partnerships. We welcome feedback from those willing to provide guidance in this process.
To our friends and loyal customers: thank you for your continued support during this challenging time. At Fuego, people come for coffee but stay for community. We are thankful to be a part of one committed to addressing injustice.
Tony, Renee and the Fuego Family
To learn more about the Police Accountability Board: https://pabnow.github.io