ORANGEBURG, S.C. (WIS) - Orangeburg police say they are investigating graffiti painted on the sides of a restaurant as a hate crime.
Officials found the graffiti late Sunday night on the front of Cloud 9 Restaurant and Lounge, a black-owned business.
It was primarily made up of three symbols: the letters “KKK,” the numbers “666,” and an inverted cross. All those symbols are commonly used by hate groups.
“This is white supremacy,” Dean Gillespie, a co-owner of Cloud 9, said. “It’s hate, it’s evil, its vitriol, and it’s ignorant.”
Sunday night, Dean’s brother Aaron, received a call from The Orangeburg Department of Public Safety telling him the business had been vandalized.
At first, Aaron Gillespie assumed it was a bunch of kids just causing some trouble.
But after talking with local authorities and seeing the markings for himself, he quickly realized there was a more serious message behind the paint.
“When they explained it to him, they said we were victims of a hate crime, and that was surprising to my brother,” Dean Gillespie said.
Aaron Gillespie added: “I was dumbfounded, not here, not Orangeburg.”
The next day the Gillespie brothers immediately went to work cleaning up the building, and many people who heard about the graffiti stopped by to help.
“Shortly after we poured paint into the trays, a car pulled up,” Dean Gillespie said. “Then two cars pulled up, four cars pulled up. Before you know it there was 10 to 15 people out here, assisting us in painting. And that was an amazing feeling.”
With all that help from the community, they were able to open up on time Monday night.
The Department of Public Safety says when they found the spray-paint on the building, they immediately checked the surrounding area to see if they could find the used cans. They said they didn’t find anything.
The incident is still under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call police at 803-534-2812, or Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC (888-274-6372).