Whittier Cafe in Denver, Colorado is a cultural hub for residents, so the owner was distressed to learn someone wrote obscene language on a bench near the front door.
“I just start crying, I’m like, ‘Really?,’ which was stupid because you are what you answer to, and I don’t answer to that, but it was too close to home, you know what I mean,” the owner of the cafe told Denverite, who first reported the incident.
Millete Birhanemaskel, said a customer sent her a photo on Wednesday via text of the racial epithet that said, “fu**ing niggers” on the outside bench. Her husband Jeff Fard, founder and director of “Brother Jeff’s Cultural Center” in Five Points was extremely upset and posted the picture on his Facebook.
“Is this how someone(s) disrespect a Black woman, community owned business? Not in this town!” he wrote as the caption.
“Whittier Cafe is an example of what works in community,” the husband told the news source.
“You have a neighborhood that has embraced diversity, you have neighbors that do not tolerate any forms of racism. This is not an issue of just black people being upset. This has upset the entire community,” Fard added.
The City Council President Albus Brooks wrote on Twitter, “We have much work to do.”
This vandalism was found in Denver’s Whittier neighborhood at a black owned coffee shop. I post it to expose hate and racism in our own backyard. We have much work to do. Racism exist, and we must expose it…. #FightRacism #EndHate #InclusiveDenver pic.twitter.com/5Dlt2ig8G4
— Albus Brooks (@AlbusBrooks) May 30, 2018
Birhanemaskel said a strange man has been harassing the coffee shop and has even made remarks like “Do you think you’ll get the publicity you want now?” and “Maybe Al Sharpton will come down” which she said is “nerve-wrecking” because majority of her staff are minority women. She claimed he even circled the block a few times watching the shop.
However, the business owner said the racial action taken by the unidentified suspect had the “exact opposite impact” and she’s received so much support from her customers.
“Being a business, being people of color in a neighborhood where we’re losing ground, it’s nice, it feels like an anchor, kind of a safe space for people and we’re going to continue that, we’re not going anywhere,” Birhanemaskel said. “One of our customers sanded [the slur] off and said, ‘This is not who we are.’”
The cafe is located on 1710 E. 25th Ave. in Denver, Colorado and hosts Black events for Africans and African Americans communities.