The owners of a restaurant just outside of Homer woke up to racist graffiti scrawled across the front of their building Thursday. The owners of Wasabi’s Bistro reported the incident to police shortly before 8 a.m. and the photos have been shared widely on social media.
Colt Belmonte, who is white, co-owns the restaurant with his wife Dali Frazier, who is African-American. The largely
misspelled message used racial slurs and said the family should leave the U.S. “Trump 2020” was also written on the building.
Belmonte grew up in Homer and returned to town with his family in 1997. As he painted over the graffiti Thursday morning, he said this is not the first hate crime his family has suffered through in Homer. He said one of his vehicles was vandalized with violent racial slurs in recent years.
“They slashed the tires, scratched the paint up. We get letters every once in a while,” Belmonte explained.
He said those threatening and racist letters have been delivered to both Wasabi’s and another restaurant in town him and his wife used to own, The Alibi.
He said that continued after his wife’s son took over the popular bar. At Wasabi’s, you can still see bullet holes that appeared overnight about three years ago. Belmonte said that incident was also racially motivated.
He adds that the graffiti on his building now is just another example of how hateful rhetoric has increased since President Donald Trump’s election in 2016.
“I think our current presidency is letting these people have a voice. They feel empowered. The feel whatever it is that they feel,” he said.
Belmonte said he received several calls Thursday morning from residents offering to help paint over the racist rhetoric. While he said his family appreciates the sentiment, they want to move out of town.
“Just the stuff we’ve heard and seen in this town. I know people say it’s a “cosmic hamlet,” but you have to be of color to understand it. It’s all I can say,” Belmonte said as he stirred a can of blue paint. “When you look like everyone else, no nobody said anything to you. It’s just part of being black or whatever that you have to deal with things and have to keep your mouth shut.”
Alaska State Troopers are investigating the incident. Police weren’t able to say whether they have any leads as the investigation is ongoing.