Reflections from Our GM


I used to call the police a lot. 

Working at other stores prior to the Co-op, and following policies about theft or confrontations in the store, the quickest resolution was to call the non-emergency number and ask for an officer to trespass the offending individual. I always told myself that this was a helpful middle ground, not pressing charges or creating a criminal record, but protecting our property, place and people. 

I racked up a thick stack of trespass documents from individuals no longer legally allowed in the store. Every single incident went as I planned, the police arrived, filled out the paperwork, explained to the individual they were barred from entering the store, and everyone headed their separate ways. A lack of any escalation in any of these police-community interactions was I’m sure in part due to training, but also frankly luck. 

In the three years I’ve been at the Co-op I haven’t filled out a single trespass document. In both my personal journey of learning and our country’s evolving understanding of policing, the common question of what types of incidents necessitate introducing an armed officer is asked more and more. With my experience, when police violence or murder occurs, I pay attention to the emergency call. What would have happened if it was never placed? 

I attended the 4/9 press conference by the City of Takoma Park announcing the arrest of David Hall Dixon for the murders of Dominique Williams and James Lionel Johnson among other charges. I went as a person to show support for the arrest and charges in an obvious case of vigilante justice, but also as a business operator thinking daily about these issues. 

I’ve also watched in horror at the recent high profile mass shootings, including a Long Island Stop and Shop, and the Boulder King Soopers. Working for the Obama campaign in 2008 in Colorado, I stood outside of that very King Soopers registering voters and was heartbroken by that news. After everything that grocery workers have been through in the last year, the threat of gun violence in our public spaces adds another layer of worry. 

I applaud the Board for their announcement that DEI training is a 2021 priority. The role of the Board is to set policy for me to follow, and an understanding of the history of racism and white supremacy is important to set policy on these issues. 

I know many of you expected an Earth Day email today. Others wanted an update on the parking lot termination. Those will come, but this is what was on my mind today. 

Follow and donate to DC BLM and follow Takoma Park Mobilization for the excellent work in this space.

Mike Houston
General Manager