OAK PARK, Ill. (CBS) — Oak Park police were tracking a hate crime Wednesday night, after a brick was tossed at the window of a Black-owned business that is also the headquarters for four Black village trustee candidates.
CBS 2’s Tara Molina exposed just what happened and what is being done to protect the businesses.
Live Café and Creative Space on Oak Park Avenue is more than a coffee shop. The owner calls it a safe space for difficult conversations about race, and said it is there to foster equity and inclusion.
That is part of why the owner said the café was targeted, with a brick wrapped in a piece of notebook paper covered in racial slurs.
Reesheda Graham Washington showed us what she found outside her small business just before 8 a.m. Wednesday morning.
“The note on the outside said ‘no (racial slur) on the ballot,” Washington said. “Police have taken it as part of evidence.”
Sitting down with Molina hours later, Washington said the act, the brick, and the racial slurs were something she prepared for when she opened Live Café in Oak Park four years ago.
“We chose a place that had double panes,” she said.
That’s why the glass didn’t shatter.
“I knew the race and equity and diversity and inclusion work I was coming here to do,” Washington said.
But the preparation doesn’t make this hurt less.
Closed for months now because of the pandemic, the Live Café been operating as a campaign headquarters for four Black candidates running for village office: Anthony Clark, Chibuike Enyia, Juanta Griffin and Christina Waters.
“We represent people who aren’t represented at the table in the Oak Park trustee race,” Enyia said.
Washington said Enyia and Clark were the target of the hateful message, too, with their eligibility to run currently being contested.
“We are pushing for change. We are pushing for progress,” Clark said, “and progress and change creates fear.”
Oak Park Police are investigating, checking security footage in the area. Right now, they believe Live Café was the only business hit.
“We’re not going to cower,” Clark said. “We’re not going to be afraid.”
Washington wants to send a message to the person behind this from a place here for change.
“What if came into the space, sat down and had a cup of coffee, and had the hard conversation about why we aren’t seeing eye-to-eye?” she said.
Oak Park police said anyone with information should contact them at (708) 386-3800. Information may also be provided anonymously at (708) 434-1636, or online at http://www.oak-park.us/crimetip.
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