SHORELINE, Wash. — Black Coffee Northwest temporarily closed for two days this week due to safety concerns after the Black-owned business said swastikas were found scribbled on the building and threats of violence were posted on social media.
The hate symbol was found a few days after KIRO 7 spoke with the owners about previous racially motivated attacks and an attempt last Fall to burn down the building with Molotov cocktails, which delayed but did not stop their grand opening.
“I am uneasy because it’s escalating,” said owner Darnesha Weary, who told KIRO 7 she and her co-owner husband, Erwin, never imagined they would face this level of hate here. “This is a place that we want our community to feel safe at and that hate message, it just made me mad.”
Weary said they even recently learned from worried community members about threats posted against their business on social media.
“We have people saying we’re race baiting and just trying to get attention and so they’re going to keep giving it to us,” said Weary. “Which is a threat of violence.”
The coffee shop said a top concern is the safety of their young teenage baristas who deal with insults and racial slurs daily.
Temporarily closing Thursday and Friday allowed the business to give employees a paid mental break and discuss the hate they’ve received.
“They didn’t feel safe,” said Weary, who told KIRO 7 baristas have been called the n-word and colored. “People will come through the drive-thru and say the most hateful things to them and just leave.”
The temporary closure also allowed the business to strengthen security measures, including adding new bulletproof drive-thru windows, additional surveillance cameras, new evacuation plans and hiring security.
In last week’s Western Washington Gets Real, Darnesha and her husband told KIRO 7′s Deborah Horne they would stand tall against the racism and not be silenced.
“It’s all about building the Black community and entrepreneurship,” said Weary last week.
The coffee shop’s owners say surveillance cameras did not capture the person responsible for this week’s racist graffiti.
The King County Sheriff’s Office said the racist vandalism is under investigation and no arrests had been made as of Friday night.
“We’re baristas serving coffee,” said Weary. “At the end of the day, no one should have to come to work and be called racial slurs every day.”
Black Coffee Northwest reopened Saturday with a huge show of support from customers.
Cox Media Group