Police in Oak Park are investigating what a local cafe owner is calling a hate crime.
Reesheda Graham Washington of Live Café & Creative Space said she woke up Wednesday to news that someone had tried to smash the front door of her business with a brick.
According to police, the brick was wrapped in a piece of paper that had a racist slur scrawled on it.
“We want to make sure that people understand that this is not just a one-off,” Graham Washington said. “This is indicative of the kind of systemic racism that, unfortunately, our village, our city, our state and our country has been wrestling with and struggling with.”
The glass did not shatter, but the damage was done.
The cafe serves as a meeting place for several Oak Park residents who are running for office. Two African American candidates for village trustee said they were the targets of the brick’s message.
"By no means should a racist be comfortable enough to come across this business and try to throw a brick through the window with what they wrote on that brick," said trustee candidate Anthony Clark. "We should be the ones that feel welcomed here. We should be the ones that feel empowered because we’re the ones that are truly invested in making this community better."
Trustee candidate Chibuike Enyia called for unity.
“This division that we’ve been facing for so long, it needs to go,” Enyia said. “It’s not helping us be more productive. Our country is struggling right now and we need to lift each other up.”
Community members visited the cafe on Wednesday to show their support.
A police spokesperson said the investigation is still underway and early indications are that it was an isolated incident and no other nearby businesses were vandalized. Police said anyone with information about the incident is urged to contact the Oak Park Police Department at 708-386-3800.