The Starbucks “pig” label drama continues, now with collateral damage [Updated]

Photo: Patthamanan Jaisawaeng (iStock)

Update, December 3, 2019: There’s been more collateral damage in the case of the “pig” cups handed off to a cop at a Starbucks in Glenpool, Oklahoma, last Thursday. Now Lola Price, the manager who was on duty at the time, says she was fired that night by her supervisors, even though she had nothing to do with the cups.

“I was terminated from my position because, Starbucks was looking for someone to take the blame for this and to save some face from their company,” Price told KTUL-8, the local ABC affiliate. As Price points out, it was a barista who allegedly put the “pig” label on the officer’s cups (although that narrative has been disputed by barista Twitter), and she herself apologized as soon as the cop discovered the label and gave him a blueberry muffin to make things right.

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Now Price is unemployed. Employees at the Glenpool Starbucks declined to comment further when approached by a KTUL reporter, even to confirm whether Price had actually worked there.

In other news, although the viral Facebook post about the incident from Kiefer, Oklahoma, police chief Johnny O’Mara has been deleted, the Kiefer police department continues to receive lots of support from the Blue Lives Matter crowd, including the promise of free coffee from Black Rifle Coffee Company.

“I think this is that West Coast elitist, progressive culture that continues to encroach into American corporate values,” Black Rifle’s founder and CEO Evan Hafer said. “We have to continue to fight this anti-police narrative.”

He gave this statement, you will be unsurprised to learn, to Fox News, where it’s been posted on the website under the header “Proud American.”

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Meanwhile, the Twitter battle continues unabated—it’s less a case of a work prank gone awry, you see, than another argument in favor of the police abolition movement, which argues that police officers can no longer be trusted to do their jobs without excessive force and violence. Or, if you believe Evan Hafer, it’s another sign that America is abandoning its traditional values and going to hell.

A smaller battle continues between Chief O’Mara and his daughter, who tweeted that her father is, indeed, as big an asshole as his Facebook post seems to indicate.

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She’s also suggested that someone start a GoFundMe to help out Lola Price until she finds another job.

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Original story, December 2, 2019: Last Thursday—Thanksgiving day—a police officer in Kiefer, Oklahoma, went to a Starbucks in nearby Glenpool to pick up five cups of coffee for the dispatchers who were working that day. When he picked up the coffee, he noticed that the name “Pig” was written on all five labels. The Kiefer police chief, Johnny O’Mara, was not amused. He called up the Starbucks and asked to speak to a manager. The manager offered to reprint the labels. The barista called the cop to apologize and told him it was a joke. That was not the sort of restitution O’Mara was looking for. He posted a picture of one of the offending cups on Facebook along with a message of outrage. (The original message has been deleted, but CNN preserved some of the highlights.)

“What irks me is the absolute and total disrespect for a police officer who, instead of being home with family and enjoying a meal and a football game, is patrolling his little town... This cup of coffee for a ‘pig’ is just another little flag. It’s another tiny symptom and a nearly indiscernible shout from a contemptuous, roaring and riotous segment of a misanthropic society that vilifies those who stand for what’s right and glorifies the very people who would usher in the destruction of the social fabric.”

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The story was picked up by KTUL-8, the local TV station, and from there went viral. Starbucks promised an investigation and eventually fired the offending barista. Starbucks and the Kiefer police department released a joint press release that announced the two entities were going to work together on special events to let everyone know that the official position of Starbucks is that cops are not pigs.

But in some corners of Twitter, that was not enough. There were demands that all Starbucks be shut down for sensitivity training toward cops, just as they shut down last year for racial-bias training, and that the barista should be forced to accompany the cop on ride-alongs for a month in her spare time “so she gets an understanding of the person she disrespected.”

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Then Chief O’Mara’s daughter chimed in that perhaps the barista was simply a shrewd judge of character:

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That went viral, too.

And then barista Twitter began questioning the veracity of the entire story, arguing that the Starbucks POS has very strict filters on profanity and never would have allowed a slur like “pig” to get through. Some people on Twitter claiming to be baristas noted that, because of these profanity filters, the only way for the order to come up like O’Mara and the cop claimed is if the cop named himself “Pig” for the mobile order pickup.

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Amy Slanchik, a reporter from KOTV-6 in Tulsa who has been on the story all weekend, checked in with the cop who placed the order (who doesn’t wish to be named), who told her that he had never had a Starbucks account ever and had paid for the coffee with his debit card. He also told Slanchik, “After [the barista] called and apologized, I do believe it was a joke. I don’t believe the employees nor Starbucks were attacking law enforcement. I feel like we need to lay the rumors down and get past this. We have more important things to worry about.”

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Since then, O’Mara’s Facebook post has disappeared. Twitter naturally wonders if the whole thing was a conspiracy.

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Will we ever get to the bottom of this? Or has the news cycle churned on and banished this to the depths of our collective memory?

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About the author

Aimee Levitt

Aimee Levitt is associate editor of The Takeout.