The sticker reads: “Exclusively for white people. Maximum of 5 colored customers, colored BOH (Back of House) staff accepted.” The sticker also includes the City of Austin logo and says the message is “sponsored by the City of Austin Contemporary Partition and Restoration Program.”
“Some people are saying that this may be an attempt at satire, or a statement about gentrification,” said bakery owner Olivia Guerra O’Neal. “As a multiracial family with a multiracial staff, there’s nothing funny about this … It’s sick, and its cowardly message can be read many ways, none of them positive. We are disgusted by this act of vandalism and cowardice.”
Workers at Sugar Mama’s saw the sticker out front when they opened up. Employees removed the sticker, but even though it’s gone, they’re left questioning the meaning behind it.
“I’m not really sure what the message was. I’ve heard several things, like, gentrification in the neighborhood, or maybe it’s race-motivated. I’m not sure,” said store manager April Jensen.
Sugar Mama’s was not the only target. City officials say the sticker was placed on several other East Austin businesses between midnight and 7 a.m. Wednesday and included the unauthorized use of their logo and falsely claimed the city sponsored the message.
“This is an appalling and offensive display of ignorance in our city. Austin condemns this type of hurtful behavior,” Mayor Steve Adler said. “Our city is a place where respect for all people is a part of our spirit and soul. We will keep it that way.”
The Austin Police Department and Public Assembly Code Enforcement, or PACE, teams have been made aware of the stickers, and the city says it is closely monitoring the situation and will take appropriate action if any other instances arise.
“Regardless of what it was about in their minds, it was the wrong action,” said Austin City Councilwoman Ora Houston.
Houston represents parts of East Austin.
“We don’t know who did it. We don’t know why they did it,” she added. “And so, I would not be willing to make a stab at it; I just know it’s not the kind of Austin I’m accustomed to living in.”
The sticker also showed up the storefronts of El Chilito, Ingredients Grocery Store and Windmill Bicycles — all on Manor Road. The owner at the bicycle shop says she removed it and moved on.
“Sure, it’s offensive, but it’s also just a sticker,” said Sarah Goeth. “It’s easy to take down. I’ve got a business to run.”