The owners of a barbershop in North Park arrived at work Wednesday to find a racial slur written on the sidewalk in front of their business. Seeing those hateful words stirred every emotion – from anger to fear – but, mostly, they felt sadness for whoever wrote the message.
“I would just hug them,” said Melissa Cage, co-owner of the Originality Barber Salon, referring to what she would say to the person who wrote the slur. “You must just have something going on with you – some demons – so I would just hug them.”
“I would shake his hand and say, ‘Thanks for the motivation,’” added co-owner Christopher Cage. “Thanks for the motivation.”
The Cages, a husband and wife team, showed up at work Wednesday like any normal day when they noticed a neighbor looking closely at the ground in front of their barbershop on 30th Street.
Melissa looked down and saw a hateful phrase scrolled on the ground in front of their small business.
“I was mad. I almost started crying,” she told NBC 7. “I was like, ‘You know what? I can’t let this get to me. I’m just going to finish my day, clean it up, and go about my business.’”
The Cages recorded video of the slur on their phones to show police and began trying to remove the graffiti before any of their clients arrived at the salon. They called the police and filed a report.
They’re hoping investigators are able to catch the vandal but wonder why anyone would do this.
The Cages have been in business for about a year. They’re not sure if their barbershop was specifically targeted but they think it’s possible.
“It’s kind of weird for that to happen over here,” said Christopher. “I feel threatened; I feel like now, we have to protect ourselves. We gotta watch out.”
Melissa said Originality Barber Salon serves a diverse clientele.
“Everyone is welcome,” states the website for the barbershop. “You can come and feel at home away from home.”
“We get [clients] of all colors, religions, sex, everything – so it really doesn’t make sense of why they would do that over here,” Christopher added.
The barbershop is not equipped with security cameras but, after this incident, the Cages plan to install cameras.
They also plan to stay in business and say this won’t derail their goals of success.
“You didn’t push us away; we’re here to stay,” said Melissa. “We’re going to continue to cut everybody’s hair. This is who we are. We can’t change our skin color. We’re here to stay.”
The Cages hope police add more patrols to the neighborhood to keep this type of thing from happening to other business owners or residents.