Racist letter threatening new Siler City soul food shop brings more customers

SILER CITY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Business at A & I's Chicken Shack was good and the future looked bright.

But when the owner of the black-owned business went to the mailbox this week, among the bills was a hand-delivered letter.

It was a racist screed filled with epithets and threats.

"Once I opened it and started reading the letter I got to maybe the second or third line and I took the letter and I told Ivan to read it because I started tearing up because it was making me angry," Andre Chaney told ABC11.

The "N" word" appears repeatedly in the note that claims white people in Siler City won't allow a black business to succeed.

At one point it reads, "...we are doing all we can to make America great again and when we re-elect our president it will be an all-out war against 'N's' like you."

It goes on to say "...leave town or we will help you."

The Chatham County Sheriff's Office is now investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.

"It's upsetting that someone would do this no matter what their intent was," Sheriff Mike Roberson said at the restaurant Friday.

A sheriff's patrol car is now posted outside the restaurant.

"We're going to be looking at everything that we can to solve this crime," Roberson said. "But there's a bigger issue and you see it sort of weaponized, honestly, nationally. The racial issues have sort of become more and more prominent."

So the sheriff isn't just investigating, he's personally supporting the business.

He brought his wife here for dinner earlier this week.

And while he's concerned about of the state of affairs nationally he's convinced that the vast majority of citizens here embrace Chatham County's diversity.

The constant ringing of the cowbell attached to the door of the Chicken Shack may be proof he is right.

"For every person who's got an opinion, hate like that to express, there are a lot more people that will be showing some love," said Pittsboro resident David Boynton.

Boynton had never heard of the new restaurant until the hate note popped up on his Facebook feed.

He's eaten here every day since.

Boynton, who is white, added, "I feel like I'm here to put a hand up and stand for what's right."

Chaney pointed out that like Chatham County, his staff is diverse.

His partner is Puerto Rican.

Some of his wait staff are white.

And Friday, customers from all walks of life came and went.

Chaney, wiping the sweat from his brow as he stood in the hot kitchen, decried what he believes are the politics of hate.

"We're not political people. We don't care if you're a Republican or Democrat. We don't care what you are. We're about cooking soul food and making people happy," he said.

He also countered some insinuations on Facebook that maybe this is a publicity stunt by saying they didn't need more business.

"We're not asking people come support us. If you want to support something support a non-violent organization. Support the Sheriff's Association. They're doing a great job in what they're doing," Chaney said. "Support the NAACP. But what we're trying to do is just bring attention to a situation that we have because we're not going to let hate and fear run us off."
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