When James Price saw the spray-painted words, he felt baffled, disappointed, afraid.
“I don’t feel welcome anymore,” said Price, who is black.
The Blue Springs barber found his shop windows stained Wednesday morning with racial slurs. The same two words appeared on three separate windows in black paint: “Die (N-word).”
Price has owned Turn-N-Headz Barber Shop, off U.S. 40, for eight years. He said he’s never experienced anything like what he did Wednesday.
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“When you say die, that’s a threat on my life,” Price said. “Should I take it lightly or should I bear arms for my safety? I don’t even own a gun. ... I never owned a gun.”
Jennifer Dachenhausen, a spokeswoman with Blue Springs police, confirmed that the incident was reported to the department. It’s being investigated as property damage at this time.
When asked if any racially charged incidents of this nature had been reported in recent memory in the city, Dachenhausen said none had been reported in her 3 1/2 -year career until Wednesday.
Price left the shop at 8 p.m. Tuesday and another barber returned at 10 a.m. Wednesday morning, finding the spray-painted slurs.
Price speculated that the incident was fueled in part by Donald Trump’s election, saying it may have galvanized racists and bigots.
“I think there’s a lot of tension, especially since Trump’s been in office,” Price said. “A lot of people think he’s racist, and people are being more bold in their racism.”
People think “consequences will be less because of who’s in office,” he added. “That’s not a fact, but that’s what comes to mind.”
He added that since Trump’s election, he’s seen more Confederate flags flying on trucks in the city.
“People are really starting to show their true colors,” Price said.
Similarly, hateful incidents have occurred this year at Shawnee Mission East High School in Prairie Village and at a neighborhood in Greenwood, Mo.
At Shawnee Mission East, racial, sexual and anti-Semitic slurs were allegedly spray-painted on sheds by a Shawnee Mission South student-athlete. The slurs included four swastikas.
In Greenwood, dozens of fliers bearing swastikas were circulated. The fliers announced an introductory meeting for aspiring white supremacists. The fliers may have been the result of tensions between neighbors, with one party trying to disparage the other.
In January, a series of bomb threats were made on Jewish community centers in 17 states.
“Ignorance is everywhere,” Price said. “People that do that are ignorant and have no love in their hearts, just hate. ... But I’m going to continue doing what I’m doing — loving on people.”
Anyone with information regarding the incident is urged to call the Blue Springs Police Department at 816-228-0151 or contact the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS (8744).