Anti-Police Power Surrey Confronts “Coffee with Cops”

By Jeff Shantz 

Coffee with the Cops is a pure copaganda (police propaganda) exercise undertaken by police and the City of Surrey to put a friendly face on the RCMP and to provide cover for the violence that police inflict on our communities on an everyday basis. The aim is the further intrusion and infiltration by police into communities that are already heavily policed and criminalized, from poor bashing of homeless people to fear mongering over youth. The program involves host businesses treating police to snacks and coffee while they chat up and try to win over customers.

On October 19, 2018, Anti-Police Power Surrey (APPS) organized an open opposition to Coffee with the Cops at Cafe Nelly in the Gateway SkyTrain station in Whalley, an area already subjected to high levels of policing. Anti-Police Power Surrey is a new coalition of people who live and work in Surrey organizing to oppose the domination of our communities by police, to support real social, rather than repressive, resources in Surrey, and to develop alternative forms of public safety. APPS opposes the policing of our communities, neighborhoods, schools, and the fear politics that businesses, politicians, and police use to expand policing in Surrey—in the interests of profit, property, and development rather than human need.

During the action against Coffee with the Cops at Cafe Nelly many conversations were held with people also concerned about the gross overfunding of police in Surrey and more than 100 leaflets were handed out. This was the first such action organized by APPS but will by no means be the last.

The message of APPS is that funding and resources need to be put into real community resources and services (housing, health, community spaces, education, child and elder care, etc.) not into police repression and violence and publicly paid for stunts like Coffee with the Cops. Notably, City of Surrey staff (also on work hours) were present throughout the event, enjoying treats from the business and chats with the cops. Public money not well spent.

There is a reason police, businesses, and governments need to rely on nonsense like Coffee with the Cops. People do not trust the police or view them as helpful community services for a reason. Coffee with the Cops needs to be called out for what it is and openly opposed. Along with the policing that dominates discussion of public safety in Surrey and which only contributes to further alienation, fear, and punishment—factors in social harm in the first place—without in fact keeping our communities safe.