Community rallies around Pernell’s after racist targeting
By LINDSAY JOHNSON, News Review Correspondent
Local restaurant owner Vanessa Allen of Pernell’s Kitchen came in for work Sunday morning to find her family’s business trailer had been vandalized with gang related symbols. This discovery was made after she learned of racist posts made on the restaurants’ Facebook page.
“I got a text from my friend saying, ‘You need to go look at your Facebook page now and see what’s being said.’
What Allen found was a post using racist slang, discouraging people from eating at their restaurant.
According to Allen, this is the third time they’ve been targeted. “The first time was on our sign out on the road,” said Sammy Allen, father of Vanessa and pastor at New Beginnings Church. There had also been some crude vandalism to their window, as well as numerous comments on their Facebook page, mostly racist. The Allens were unable to give exact time frames, but stated that the most recent incident occurred about two months ago.
“My family has invested a lot of time in this business. Nothing we have came for free, everything we have we own, nothing was borrowed,” said Vanessa.
Pernell’s is a Southern cuisine located at 424 W. Drummond, serving homemade meals “from the ground up.” They have been catering for about five years, and opened their storefront just more than a year ago.
“For some reason, they’re discriminating against us ... and it’s not because of our food, or that our place isn’t clean, or anything like that. It’s simply the fact that we’re African American,” said Vanessa.
A post by the family on the Pernell’s Facebook page went viral. The photo of the vandalized trailer reached thousands of users and hundreds of likes in just one day.
Other Facebookers showed their support by pledging to eat at the restaurant and posting positive endorsements.
“Vanessa, your food is great!” stated one user. “Please do not let those with no sense of morals or ethics get to you.” Another said, “This is a true American family who is bringing a quality product to a town who desperately needs it. Hang in there you have the support of this family.”
Several other Facebook users showed an interest in pulling together as a community in efforts to possibly organize fundraisers for the clean-up of their trailer. Local photographer Brian Bartels even created a revised photo of the trailer to help inspire the community. He is also offering a $10-off coupon to his Visital customers who bring with them a receipt from Pernell’s.
Peggy Breeden with the Swap Sheet said each of their “Flex Thursday” vendors has offered a donation to the Pernell Family.
“This is not a hateful community, this is a loving community,” said Breeden. “I think the vast majority of our residents are appalled by this, and we want to show our support for the Pernells in any way we can.”
Anyone wanting to support them through this event may come to LeRoy Jackson Park on Aug. 16 from 5-9 p.m. For those interested in vending, please contact The Swap Sheet at (760) 375-5400.
<i>*The accompanying image is a rendering by Brian Bartels. The News Review editorial board chose to publicize this image with the story, rather than give a platform to the perpetrators who vandalized the Pernell's trailer.</i>Story First Published: 2012-08-08