'It motivates us': Business owners not letting racist message negatively affect them

Someone left this racist note on a new east side business, but the owners aren't letting it stop them.
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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — Imagine investing six figures in a new business, then being warned to get out because of the color of your skin.

That's what apparently happened in the east Indianapolis community of Irvington.

However, the message may have backfired.

The message shoved through a mail slot in the door.

Co-owner Tony Jones read it out loud, "Close shop. We don't support black business owners."

"It doesn't hurt. It doesn't hurt us at all," Jones insisted. "The way it affects us, it motivates us to reach out and do what we had been doing to bring people together."

Jones and business partner Sami Ali have no idea who's responsible.

"If he was in front of me," Ali said, "I would tell him thank you."

"Thank you" for hatefulness that has disgusted, frustrated, and surprised other business and neighbors.

"It's terrible," said Trisha Johnson.

Heidi Gerdts agreed, "I'm shocked, honestly shocked."

Beth Droste-Glowinski has a sign in her yard welcoming everyone to the neighborhood, except the person responsible for the hurtful message.

"You are not welcome. Your thoughts are not welcome," she said. "You need to find somewhere else to be. This is not where you belong."

Irvington is a neighborhood that is historic, trendy, edgy and diverse.

"It's a pretty eclectic group of people that are pretty colorful," Gerdts explained. "We came here because we felt everyone is kind of accepted."

Jones and Ali are opening the Level UP Gaming Lounge. It will be a place where gamers of all ages can compete and meet each other.

"Because gamers don't get out much," Jones said. "We want this to be a place where they can get out and socialize. We can find out what we have in common instead of what separates us."

The hate message may have backfired.

It's given the new business lots of support, attention and free publicity.

"That letter was like a blessing from God," Ali said. "Everyone started supporting us. "Everyone says we know about your business. It sounds like an amazing business. We will check it out. We went from hate to everybody loving us, so it's awesome."

The owners filed a police report about the letter. They plan to open Level UP in September.

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