Black-owned Hattiesburg restaurant vandalized with racial slurs

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Vikki Layne Terrell unlocked the door to her restaurant Monday afternoon to find it a mess.

Terrell, owner of the popular Vikki Layne’s Bar and Grill in Hattiesburg, Miss., found her plates smashed and her tables overturned. Her kitchen equipment was damaged. She also found graffiti spray painted in her bathrooms.

“Get out,” one message read, and another said, “You not welcome.” Worse was the N-word scrawled on a mirror.

“I don’t know why anyone would do this,” she told The Clarion Ledger. “I should not walk into the women’s room and see racial slurs on the walls.”

Hattiesburg police are investigating the incident as a suspected hate crime.

Terrell opened Vikki Layne’s about a year ago in the downtown area. Reportedly, she has experienced racial discrimination at the location before, including having white customers ask not to be seated next to black patrons or served by black wait staff. It’s not something she had experienced at a previous location.

“This is just reprehensible. This is unacceptable,” Andrea Saffle, executive director of the Downtown Hattiesburg Association, told WDAM.

“Hattiesburg is a diverse and welcoming community. This is just not acceptable. Vikki is a talented restaurateur. Her food is fantastic. We’re just heartbroken that something like this would take place.”

If the point of the vandalism was to scare Terrell into closing her doors permanently, it’s done just the opposite.

“I’ll be in this building for years to come,” Terrell told The Clarion Ledger. “They should have at least waited until I was tired. You just gave me my second wind. Now I can’t dare let you make me move. I can’t dare let you make me get out. This is just a bump in the road, and it’s not even a big bump.”

A post on the restaurant’s Facebook page today reiterated Terrell’s message.

“[W]hile I know you can’t ‘fix stupid’ what we CAN do is fight to overcome and move past it…we can set a NEW standard for our city…we can band together and move in a different direction…that’s the mindset I woke up in this morning…I don’t want to bash, or tear down…I don’t want to separate or even segregate…I want to unify and regroup…there’s so much more POWER in what we can BUILD together…than what we can break down wasting energy tearing at each other’s throats…

“If you have this same mindset…let me know…if not I pray that one day you will…but until then…all I care about is the PROGRESSION, GROWTH, and POSITIVE FUTURE of our city…”