Oak Park Police are investigating a possible hate crime at Live Café, 163 S. Oak Park Ave., after someone discovered a brick wrapped in a message lying on the ground next to the glass front door of the popular coffee shop. The message: “No n — on the ballot.” The brick did not break the glass, but left a minor scratch on the door.
The owner of a business on the same block of Oak Park Avenue called police after a customer on a morning walk came into the store at about 7:45 a.m. on Wednesday and mentioned the brick.
At this time, there does not appear to be an eye-witness to the incident, which may have taken place during the overnight hours. Several police officers were at the scene Wednesday morning, conducting interviews and canvassing the block looking for video surveillance that might have captured the incident.
Live’s owner, Reesheda Graham Washington, said the establishment was closed at the time the brick was thrown. She said the glass on the door of the café is shatter resistant.
Washington said she suspects the incident is related to her support for several African-American candidates running for local office in Oak Park.
“I stand in solidarity and collaboration with Activate Oak Park,” Washington said, referencing the political action committee designed to help elect progressive candidates. Washington said those candidates do work out of the space, as do many other people.
Washington said the incident is just the latest in an increasingly hostile environment, a hostility she believes is directly related to her political activity.
She and others at the scene added that they don’t think it’s a coincidence that the brick was discovered on the morning after the historic Georgia Senate runoff election, in which both Democratic candidates appear to have won — including Rev. Raphael Warnock, who will be the first Black senator in the state’s history when he’s sworn into office.
An Oak Park police officer at the scene Wednesday told Washington that the incident will be initially labeled criminal damage to property. The message wrapped around the brick, however, will likely escalate the charge to a hate crime, but that won’t happen until officers investigate further. The officer said there was another note on the back of the brick, but they don’t know what it says yet.
More as this story develops.