After a couple refused to sit near a group of police officers in a Pennsylvania restaurant on July 9, the cops responded by paying for the couple's bill as a gesture of goodwill.
"Essentially the whole goal of it was to let him know that we’re not here to hurt you, we’re not here for that," Homestead Police Officer Chuck Thomas told WTAE. "We’re here for you. We work for the public. And we just want to better the relationship between the community and the police."
Server Jesse Meyers of the restaurant, Eat N' Park, spoke about the incident.
"A table goes to sit down and the guy looks over at one of the police officers and was like, 'Nah I don’t want to sit here.' So they got moved completely opposite, away from the police officers," said Meyers.
Thomas said he overheard the conversation and tried unsuccessfully to persuade the couple to stay.
It was at that point another one of the police officers in the group suggested they pay the couple’s bill.
“It just dawned on me, I should do this real quick just to show this guy look, I don’t know if you had bad experience with the police in the past -- you may have you may have not -- but I just want you to know I never had an experience with you and I’m not here to do anything to you. And neither will my partners," Thomas explained.
Asking Meyers for the check, the cops paid for the couple’s $28.50 meal and added a $10 tip.
"Sir, your check was paid for by the police officers that you didn't want to sit next to. Thank you for your support. I left a $10.00 tip too,” they wrote to the couple.
Many at the restaurant praised the gesture.
"Tensions in the community were tight. A lot of people were coming up to us and shaking our hands and thanking us, but you could just feel tight air through the community," Thomas said.
The police officers' comments and actions come amid increased racial tensions between cops and the black community. Various attacks against both sides in July 2016 have contributed to the unease.
Even before July 2016, tensions were growing, The New York Times reports. According to a June Pew survey, most Americans believe race relations are poor.