This week, Seattle scoop shop Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream posted signage on its Capitol Hill shop window emphasizing that it’s a “gun free zone,” and calling attention to that fact to police officers. The no-gun policy isn’t new — Molly Moon’s has had it in place for the past seven years — but the mention of police on the sign is a recent development specific to this location.
According to owner Molly Moon-Neitzel, the sign was in response to an incident in which a businessman from California came into the Capitol Hill store on Friday and ordered $500 worth of ice cream specifically for local cops who have been patrolling the area, then alerted officers to pick it up at the store. This resulted in a sudden influx of police coming into the shop, which put the staff, who were wary of the presence of so many armed officers, in an uncomfortable position. The situation also led some commenters on social media to believe that Molly Moon’s had given out free ice cream to cops, which was not the case.
“Some of the officers were harassing my employees,” Moon-Neitzel tells Eater Seattle, adding that she decided to put the sign up as a way to alert police to the fact that the store is a “gun free zone.” It is not meant to establish a new policy or an outright ban on law enforcement in the store, she clarifies. None of the six other open Molly Moon’s locations have the sign.
“We do not ever want to put our employees in a confrontational situation of having to ask police officers to leave, especially our BIPoC employees,” Molly Moon’s explained in its Instagram message Tuesday, noting that the company supports both the Black Lives Matter movement and “divesting funding from the police department.”
It’s not unusual for restaurants to prohibit firearms, even in states that have open carry laws, like Washington. Major chains, such as Chipotle and Panera Bread, have enacted such policies in recent years — but they usually make exceptions for local law enforcement. The new sign at Molly Moon’s on Capitol Hill comes as several restaurants, cafes, and bars in the city look for ways to avoid calling the cops when there are non-life-threatening disturbances.
The ice cream chain also sought to push back against accusations on social media that Moon-Neitzel had recently discouraged employees from attending recent Black Lives Matter protests. On Tuesday, Molly Moon’s publicly posted its company-wide newsletter that went out June 3 regarding the protests via its official website.
While the newsletter does not explicitly forbid workers from going to any marches or gatherings for Black Lives Matter, it does contain a detailed list of the health and safety guidelines for attendees to keep in mind. “In the HQ team,” the June 3 newsletter notes, “we’ve been talking about how we can continue to reduce transmission of the virus while impacting racial justice even more than the actions we take every day as people and as a company.” The newsletter also provides a list of alternate ways to take action.
In the new Instagram post, Molly Moon’s writes that the shop supports its employees who protest. “We’re always open to these conversations and hope to continue them,” the company states. “Open, honest dialogue is how we’ll all make the world a better place.”
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Community, first and foremost we want to say again that we 100% support Black Lives and the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as divesting funding from the police department. We have seen some posts going around referencing free ice cream being given to police officers at our Capitol Hill shop. We did not, and have not given free ice cream to police officers. We looked into what happened – and found that a man visiting from California came to our shop and prepaid for a large amount of ice cream and then told police officers to come to our shop to get it. We do not ever want to put our employees in a confrontational situation of having to ask police officers to leave, especially our BIPoC employees – but we have created new shop signage for our windows that make it even more clear that we are a gun free zone – and that this includes police officers with their firearms.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We've also seen comments about discouraging our mooncrew from protesting, and we want to be transparent about our internal communication referenced on June 3rd. We have posted the newsletter we sent to our employees regarding our stance, values and some of our work around Black Lives Matter which also gave health and safety guidelines for mooncrew to reference who were protesting – and who we absolutely supported in doing so. See link in profile.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We’re always open to these conversations and hope to continue them. Open, honest dialogue is how we’ll all make the world a better place.