Graffiti at South Carolina lounge investigated as hate crime

State News

ORANGEBURG, S.C. (AP) — Racist graffiti tagged on all four sides of a black-owned business in South Carolina is being investigated as a hate crime.

The owners of Cloud 9 Hookah Lounge and Bistro in Orangeburg painted the outside of the business Monday to cover up the graffiti found by an officer Sunday night, The Times and Democrat reported.

Symbols including an inverted cross, “666” and “KKK” were spray-painted on the outside of the building.

“We’re treating it as a hate crime until the investigation shows otherwise,” said Col. Ed Conner of the Orangeburg Department of Public Safety.

Dean Gillespie owns the business with his brother, Aaron. He said he and his brother decided to keep “pressing on” despite the graffiti.

“There’s a multitude of emotions when you see it. There’s everything from sadness, hurt, anger,” Dean Gillespie said. “Regardless of who did it, it’s up there and we have to accept it and we have accept all of the emotions that come with it and be willing to have those tough conversations, those sensitive conversations, that nobody likes to have.”

He added that he doesn’t know the motivation behind the graffiti.

“The owners are great guys,” state Rep. Justin Bamberg said. “They do a lot for the community and something like this is just very disgusting.”

No suspects have been named and no arrests were announced.

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