SHORELINE, WA - Law enforcement says a Black, family-owned business in Shoreline is the target of a hate crime, but the owners say it’s just one of several incidents they’ve dealt with in less than three months.
Erwin Weary’s goal in opening Black Coffee Northwest is to do more than just provide a good cup of joe.
"Bringing the community is actually what we do, you know, and of course if you can get an amazing cup of coffee and some good pastries, that’s a bonus," said Weary.
Weary opened his business in Shoreline just a few months ago, which was a challenge in itself.
"Opening up a business in 2020, probably gave me a couple more gray hairs, but I felt it was so important to do it, that the risk was worth it," he said.
The goal is to provide a safe space for folks, specifically for Black members of the community.
"I want to bring everyone together. I want to talk about those things that are hard to talk about," he said.
Unfortunately, it seems like not everyone is open to this idea.
"When you come in and you learn that people have graffitied your wall with hate it really angers and it hurts," said Weary.
He says someone vandalized their business by drawing swastikas on the side of the building, but this isn’t the first incident. He says they have dealt with racism and bigotry both in person and online since opening.
In fact, the targeted attacks precede them even opening their doors, he said.
"Before the building was even, we got keys to it, somebody tried to firebomb it and attack us," he said.
Law enforcement says they take these actions seriously.
"When it’s vandalism or any crime that appears to have the motivation of race or similar qualities, we are certainly going to respond very swiftly. These cases are very infrequent, but the frequencies should matter. If it happens one time, that’s one time too many," said Sergeant Tim Meyer with the King County Sheriff’s Office.
Weary says despite these attacks on his family-owned business, he has no plans of going anywhere.
"It actually is going to bring more light to the issues that are plaguing our community, and so that’s why we’re standing strong and that’s why we’re going to continue to stand," he said.