Oak Park café owned by Black woman targeted in apparent hate crime, police say

OAK PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- Police are investigating an apparent hate crime at a café owned by a Black woman in west suburban Oak Park.

People in the community came out to Live Café and Creative Space in a show of support for the owner Thursday morning. She had a message for the person who left a brick at her door, wrapped in paper with a racist note.

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The owner of an Oak Park cafe has a message for the person who left a brick at her door wrapped in paper with a racist note.

"You impacted everybody with just one brick. Just one," said Reesheda Graham Washington, owner of Live Café and Creative Space. "This is the most efficient way to attempt to sit us down. But not on our watch."

Part of Oak Park Avenue was shut down Thursday as several spoke out against racism and hate.

"We call upon all of you in this community to make sure that you condemn racism, condemn all forms of white nationalism, condemn white supremacy, because we are all God's children," said Rev. Ira Acree, Leaders Network.

"We will unite against the forces of hatred. We will unite against the forces of racism. We will stand together," said Rabbi Max Weiss, Leaders Network.

"Today in front of the Live Café, we reject chaos and choose community," said Rev. Marshall Hatch, Leaders Network.

The note read: "No N-word on the ballot!" The racial slur used was plural.

Graham Washington said it appears from a scratch on the glass that the brick was thrown, but did not break the double-paneled glass.

"We can repair windows, that is not the concern," she said. "We can replace places - bricks and mortar - they can be restored. But our souls are damaged by the offense."

The café is also known as a gallery and community meeting place. The business has been closed since December due to COVID-19, but the owner supported several local candidates of color.

"It's not enough not to be racist. You have to be anti-racist," said Anthony Clark, an Oak Park Village trustee candidate.

"Nobody wants this hate for everybody. We just want to be loved and love each other. Doesn't matter who you are, where you live and what race you are. This is the Oak Park I knew," said Chibuike Enyia, an Oak Park Village trustee candidate.

Oak Park police are asking anyone who may have information on the incident to come forward.
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