Detroit food truck owner refuses to serve cops

George Hunter
The Detroit News
A Facebook post from the Rocky's Road Brew in Detroit account

The owner of a Detroit food truck company has drawn criticism — and some praise — after announcing on social media she won't serve police officers.

"On this street corner I encounter all types and the only type that has ever purposely intimidated me is DPD (Detroit Police Department)," said Friday's post on the Rocky's Road Brew in Detroit Facebook page.

"The majority of my neighbors, customers, and myself do not feel safe around law enforcement agents (ICE, DPD, Homeland Security, etc)," the post said. "I have asked friends from the National Lawyers Guild and I am well within my rights to refuse service to law enforcement agents.

"This for the safety of my neighbors and customers (who have all become friends) and myself," said the post, which was accompanied by a photo bearing the message "We reserve the right to refuse service to cops."

The missive ended with the hashtags #blacklivesmatter #refugeeswelcome, and a profanity in Spanish insulting immigration officers.

As of 11 a.m. Saturday, the post had gotten almost 1,000 likes, although about half of those were the "angry" emoji.

Rocky Coronado, owner of the truck, acknowledged during a brief phone interview with The Detroit News that she posted the message, but didn't want to discuss it.

"If you can read, you know what the story is," she said.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig said the woman is known to be hostile to police officers.

"Generally speaking, we have good relations in that neighborhood, but my officers tell me whenever they've been in that area investigating criminal matters, she's been uncooperative and rude," Craig said.

"She has clearly shown disdain for police; the million-dollar question is: Why? We'd like to know what the issue is, and would like to sit down and talk to her about her concerns," Craig said. "I don't agree with what she's putting on Facebook, but if she ever needs help we'll give her the same service we'd give anyone else."

The Rocky's Road Brew truck, which is usually parked on Vernor Highway in southwest Detroit, offers vegan tacos and organic coffee and tea. The company was praised by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals earlier this year when PETA named Detroit one of the nation's 10 most vegan-friendly cities.

Detroit Police Officers Association president Mark Diaz said the post was "childish and immature."

"Unfortunately, we live in a society where the media has sensationalized a lot of the anti-cop movement," he said. "It's really just a small segment of society, but these squeaky wheels make the most noise, and they criticize everything police do.

"But it's their right if they choose not to serve police officers," Diaz said. "It just shows that person's mentality — but under no circumstances would we refuse service to them. I hope they never have to call 911, but if they do we'll show up and do our jobs.

Coronado posted a follow-up message Saturday morning which provided details about what prompted her original post:

"Yesterday, two people came by in a unmarked, black suburban with tinted windows both with bulletproof vests and badges," she wrote. "I do not serve law enforcement (ICE, Homeland Security, DPD, etc) so I told (them) I was closed to not make a tense situation more so. They then circled back around with a lady (still with bulletproof vest and badge) getting out of her vehicle asking why I didn’t serve them.

"Not feeling confrontational, I meekly told her that I don’t serve law enforcement. She told me she was (with) the humane society and that we probably have the same political ideas. That’s when I was ready to rectify the situation but she quickly became belligerent. She took her phone out and stated taking pictures (wish I woulda done the same).

"The customers already at the truck were harassed by her and photographed despite NOT having their consent. THATS WHEN I REFUSED HER SERVICE and asked her to leave."

Coronado said she's been harassed online after her Friday post.

"Since then All Lives Matter, 'Patriots,' MAGA, & 'Christians' have been slandering, threatening, and harassing the business via Facebook. These people, their code switching, their hate, their ignorance shows me I’m on the right path. These people are the threat to freedom, equality, & peace in America.

 "As a brown queer person in America, I am well aware that my very being is a threat to Amerikkka and its lineage of genocide, fragility, and hate. My very existence is my resistance and just like my ancestors, I am resilient. So despite the hate and slander, I am well.

"I wanted to thank everyone for the emotional labor (these creeps cannot be reasoned with) and support. It’s super comforting and I love y’all for it. I had planned to take the day off to attend RISE in Flint (a nationwide day of environmental action) but because of the madness I’ll be doing some self care near home. So, I’ll be closed but will keep you posted on when I’ll be opened back up. With resistance and love in mind, Rocky Coronado."

Friday's Facebook post sparked heated online arguments between those who supported the company's stance and others who called for a boycott. 

"This is unfortunate because I really enjoyed your food today and I have blue lives close to me," a poster named Ravon Green said. "Letting the actions of the few affect your view of a whole group of people is what we are fighting against right now, in all forms."

A poster named Jon Spear was more blunt: "I will now boycott your food truck and I will make sure my friends do too."

While the majority of posts criticized the company, there was some support. 

"You’ve got principles, and you’ve got bangin’ ... food, you’re kind and generous, you’re a gift. I’ll be there tomorrow!" wrote a poster named Elisa Gurule Orale.

Friday's brouhaha isn't the first time a Detroit food truck owner clashed with cops over a social media post.

In 2014, hours after two New York officers were killed, the owner of the Detroit BBQ Co. truck posted to his personal Facebook page: "How many times did they think they were going to kick the hornets (sic) nest before they got stung? These guys 'can't breathe' now either."

The owner, Tim Idzikowski, later apologized, and said he authored the post "out of frustration."

Nationwide, dozens of restaurants and coffee shops have refused to serve police officers. Cops have also reported being verbally abused by wait staff, and having profanity written on their restaurant receipts.
(313) 222-2134
Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN