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Racist stickers on East Austin businesses spark outrage in the community

Racist stickers on East Austin businesses spark outrage in community

KVUE — A Facebook post documenting a racist act is sparking outrage in Austin. A woman saw a sticker on the front window of women's clothing store Rare Trends in East Austin, took a picture and posted it online.

The sticker looks like a seal and states, "Exclusively for White People. Maximum of 5 colored customers." There's also a city logo and above it the words "Sponsored by the City of Austin Contemporary Partition and Restoration Program."

"We have nothing to do with that," said Caroline Gray, the director of sales and marketing for Rare Trends. Gray said she came in to work Wednesday expecting an average day, not knowing what was on the store's front window.

"I come in from the side and in through the front door and so the window is a little bit off to my left, so I don't see the front of the sign when I come through the door, so yeah, I had no idea what was going on."

That was until the phone started ringing. "She said 'I just walked by your store and there's a sign in the window that says you don't, you only allow white people to shop,'" Gray recalled. "And I was like, 'What?'"

Gray walked outside and saw the sticker for herself. "I took it down. [I] have since understood from police I should not have done that, because there could have unfortunately been evidence that they could have used. But I took it down immediately," she said.

Austin police came to the store to investigate. Vandals put the stickers on five Manor Road businesses: Rare Trends, Windmill Bicycles, El Chilito, Sugar Mama's Bakeshop and El Chile.

"Those things are never funny and those things are never innocent," said Mayor Steve Adler, condemning the acts.

City staff sent out this statement about the stickers:

Between midnight and 7 a.m. today, a number of local businesses in East Austin were defaced with a racially offensive sticker.

The stickers included disparaging remarks toward persons of color. They also included the unauthorized use of the City logo and claimed City of Austin sponsorship. The stickers were neither produced nor knowingly displayed by the businesses and were removed by their employees when discovered this morning.

Austin Police Department and Public Assembly Code Enforcement (PACE) Teams have been made aware of the stickers. The City is closely monitoring local businesses for additional instances of defacement and will take appropriate action should further instances arise.

Mayor Steve Adler condemned the stickers.

"This is an appalling and offensive display of ignorance in our city. Austin condemns this type of hurtful behavior. Our city is a place where respect for all people is a part of our spirit and soul. We will keep it that way," Adler said.

City Manager Marc Ott added the stickers don't represent the City of Austin.

"This is an affront to who we are as a City and who we are as a community. This type of cowardly and hateful act will not be tolerated in this city," Ott said.

Austin does not have a Contemporary Partition and Restoration Program, but Gray said it's those type of details on the sticker that make it all the more disturbing.

"I'm especially shocked by the 'officialness' of the sign, if that's even a word. I think that if it was somebody that spray painted or something a little less professional looking it would be less upsetting. But it literally looked like something from 1960 which was, it was upsetting," said Gray.


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Racist Sticker East Austin Store
This sticker appeared on several East Austin businesses.  Courtesy photo