Local business owner says she was target of vandalism

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 9, 2020

By Shavonne Potts

SALISBURY — Sabrina Harris, owner of an arts incubator business on Fulton Street , says she believes she was the target of recent vandalism for her support of the local Black Lives Matter movement and subsequent protests.

Her business, Vibes, which is located in the 1000 block of South Fulton Street, is nestled between two other businesses. On Monday, someone threw a rock through a front window.

Initially, she thought it could’ve been a random act of vandalism. Then, she realized it was more than just her business vandalized and it occurred the night that the Confederate statue “Fame” was being removed. Asked if Salisbury Police believed the incident was racially motivated, Lt. Lee Walker said the incident report did not have any indications to that effect.

“I know it happened the night of ‘Fame’ coming down. I know that it’s not a coincidence or just a random thing because there’s a group of us being targeted,” Harris said.

Harris said she’s a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement and supported the removal of the Confederate monument that was taken down and transported to a storage location Monday. She’s participated in protests and believes that’s why she and others were targeted.

Harris said her sons and husband discovered the broken window. Her children, who walked through the door first, told their dad what they found.

“He saw the glass and the rock,” Harris said.

Her husband then contacted the police. Afterward, he and friend LJ Johnson, known under the professional moniker of Yeddi Lino, cleaned up the glass.

Bailey Wingler, a creative consultant for the business, created a GoFundMe page to cover the costs of the damage and to buy needed security cameras. The fundraiser page was created Tuesday with the goal of $2,000. It has since exceeded that goal.

Harris, who is hearing impaired, said she feels as though she “has to watch her back.”

She is still trying to process and work through the idea that someone would target her business. Harris said the community that surrounds her business is filled with friendly and supportive people.

“There’s love in this community,” Harris said.

Although she’s received support in the community, it was still upsetting that someone would damage her business.

“I was angry and hurt that someone would do this,” she said.

Harris noted that there have been other recent acts of vandalism to Black and minority-owned businesses.

On Tuesday, Krystal Stukes, owner of Triple Threat Dance and Charm, discovered some graffiti on a building that faces her studio. The building that she’s located in and an adjacent building house Black-owned businesses.

As some younger students in her day camp were outside exercising, Stukes said, she saw the white spray-painted graffiti on a back brick wall. The graffiti had some derogatory words on it.

The owner cleaned it by Tuesday morning. Stukes admitted she initially thought the graffiti was a random crime. Once she heard about the vandalism at Vibes, she began to think someone is targeting Black businesses.

A Black-owned hair salon is located in the business that had graffiti on it. Stukes said it was some months ago that someone threw a rock into a glass door at her studio.

“I want to give everybody the benefit of the doubt,” Stukes said.

But she said the rock that was thrown through the window of her studio a few months ago was targeted.

She’s also cautious of any future acts of vandalism or potential violence. She’s prepped her dance students about being aware of their surroundings when outside and being alert to people who could potentially come inside the studio.

Candy Torres, co-owner of Monterrey Mexican Restaurant, said she reported similar vandalism to police in April. She said someone threw a rock through a glass door at the business.

Torres said she doesn’t want to label the vandalism as racially motivated. One of the biggest issues she’s facing now is customers who refuse to wear masks when picking up food orders. She’s received threats from customers who have been asked to wear them.

Torres said she chooses to focus on the good in people and the good things happening in the community.

“I just pray for the hearts that don’t have love in it,” she said.