Business owner closes store due to racially charged graffiti

Permit refund granted to business owner
By Brian Soergel | Jun 03, 2019
Photo by: Brian Soergel Graffiti left on a business in Edmonds.

Edmonds police are looking for a suspect who they say used racially charged graffiti to target a business owner who had applied for a permit to operate a U-Haul business on site.

The owner, Jawahar (Jay) Lal, closed Woodway Market after the incident at his store in the 23600 block of 100th Avenue West.

On May 28, Lal called 911 to report property damage, likely stemming from recent neighborhood dissent over the U-Haul business, said Sgt. Josh McClure.

The owner had applied for permits to bring the moving truck rental service onto the property. According to Lal, this was met by resistance from some local residents, who voiced their concern during a private meeting he and the property owner had hosted.

Local residents attended the meeting, McClure said.

When the business owner arrived to work May 28, he said he found the misspelled “Go Bac” spray-painted on the window of his business and told police he had concerns that he was being targeted because of his ethnic background, McClure said.

Lal is originally from Fiji.

Edmonds Police would like to speak with a 40-50 year-old white male who came into the business on the May 27, expressing his dissatisfaction to the owner with the business being at the location.

That person is described as being between 5’8” and 5’10,” with a medium build, sandy-colored hair and wearing a white T-shirt and shorts. He was last seen on foot to the north from the business.

Although the graffiti did not specifically draw attention to the business owner’s ethnicity, the inference could be made that he was targeted because of that, McClure said.

Because of that, the case is under investigation to determine if the crime qualifies as malicious harassment under Washington state law.

On the same day that he reported the incident to the police, Lal sent an email to City of Edmonds planner Mike Klugston. “I think it’s best that I leave before things get worse, so I am closing down. Please see if the funds can be refunded. I really appreciate your help.”

“The permit was withdrawn as requested, and a refund is in the process of being issued,” Klugston said.

Only recently, Woodway Market had a “Now open” sign on a window and was stocked with convenience-store items. The shelves are now bare.

On Monday, the Edmonds Diversity Commission released a statement expressing “its deep concern over the recent unfortunate incident … this after he had been visited on previous days by neighbors who had suggested the merchant did not belong in that neighborhood. This kind of reprehensible treatment of any Edmonds resident or business owner is unacceptable in our community.”

Anyone with information about this case is encouraged to contact the Edmonds Police Department.

 

Comments (1)
Posted by: Patricia Davis | Jun 12, 2019 10:56

The first sentence claims "Edmonds police are looking for a suspect who they say used racially charged graffiti..."  But did the police really say that?

Further in the article, it says "the inference could be made that he was targeted because of that, McClure said. Because of that, the case is under investigation to determine if the crime qualifies as malicious harassment under Washington state law."

So, shouldn't the article's first sentence read ""Edmonds police are looking for a suspect who used graffiti with language that they say may have been racial harassment to target a business ..."?

And also, shouldn't the headline read "Business owner closes store due to what he perceived to be racially charged graffiti"?

It may turn out that the police determine it to be racial harassment, but it hasn't happened yet as far as I can tell.



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