Black business owner responds to vandalism

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 The Hattiesburg Police Department is investigating the recent vandalism of Vikki Laynes Bar and Grill in Downtown Hattiesburg.

Video by Blair Ballou

Black business Owner and owner of the restaurant Vikki Layne Terrell opened the doors to her restaurant on Monday to find her restaurant vandalized and racial slurs spray-painted throughout the building. 

“Its scary to know that my daughters can grow up in a world that still does this, because everybody thinks its gone, and unless it happens to you it’s really hard to believe, you think it’s over till it happens to you or your mother or your sister or your aunt,” Terrell said.

When Terrell walked in the doors and saw the state of her restaurant, which is located on 115 Walnut St, she pulled out her phone and began to stream on Facebook Live, where the video has been viewed almost 40,000 times.

Terrell shows her restaurant’s damage Monday on Facebook Live. “Pictures don’t even do it justice,” Terrell said.

Friend and former coworker Keshia Partida has been leading efforts to clean up and described the distress of seeing the restaurant how it was.  

“It’s heartbreaking, we were just in here the night before celebrating her daughter’s birthday, and I know how hard she works.”

Partida said other business owners have helped with the cleanup by bringing supplies and sending encouraging messages.

The community’s reaction and support have been swift, local businesses have dropped off cleaning supplies, and a GoFundMe with a goal set to $2,500 is currently available for donations. Terrell said the community support stopped her from feeling alienated and overwhelmed.

Terrell posted a message to the restaurant’s Facebook page Tuesday.

Terrell said the vandalism will not discourage her from her passion and that she will continue to pursue her goal despite it. 

“When things like this happen your first thought is to be discouraged, that’s what it does to you, it discourages you, but you have to turn and take this and just let it fuel you” Terrell said. “Whoever ever did this wanted to instill in me that I could not go forward, that I could not do it and now I feel obligated to show them that they did not stop anything.” 

HPD is currently still investigating this case, and anyone with information on the crime are encouraged to contact them at 601-544-7900 or send an anonymous tip to Metro Crime Stoppers.

Alyssa Bass contributed to this report.