Vigil held at Black-owned business after suspected hate crime


Eric Henry

Reesheda Graham Washington, owner of Live! Cafe, tearfully speaks to crowd outside her business, which was targeted in a suspected hate crime.

OAK PARK, Ill. — Residents and community leaders gathered outside Live! Cafe Thursday evening for a candlelight vigil in response to a suspected hate crime that targeted the Black-owned business the previous day.  

On Wednesday, Oak Park police found a brick outside the business located at 163 S. Oak Park Ave., with a note containing racist language. 

“I was physically shaking,” Live! Cafe owner, Reesheda Graham Washington said when the police handed her the brick Wednesday morning.  

Washington added that the incident, “does not scare [her] away.” 

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  • An attendee holds a Black Lives Matter flag in solidarity.

  • Messages taped along the window of Live! Cafe following a suspected hate crime.

  • Former Illinois House of Representative Candidate, Anthony Clark, leads crowd down Oak Park Ave. into Scoville Park.

  • Village president candidate Cate Readling speaks to crowd outside Live! Cafe.

  • Former Illinois House of Representative Candidate Anthony Clark speaks to crowds in Scoville Park.

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“I do things afraid all the time,” she said.  “But I think we need to start being inquisitive about why that has to be the way certain people  live in this country.” 

As word got out, residents filled the coffee shop’s windows and sidewalk with supportive messages, and a candlelight vigil was organized to take place Thursday evening. 

At around 5 p.m., police closed down the block where Live! Cafe is located as hundreds of residents gathered to listen to a series of community leaders denounce the racist act. 

 In addition to Washington, neighboring restaurant owner Spiro Papageorge of PapaSpiros, Oak Park village president candidate Cate Readling and former Illinois House of Representative candidate Anthony Clark spoke at the vigil

Readling, who says that racial equity is a core reason for why she is running for village president, said that in response to this incident. 

“I came here as soon as I could to make myself  available, and to be observant and attentive to the needs of the moment,” Readling said.

After meeting outside Live! Cafe, Clark then led crowds through the streets two blocks north into Scoville Park, to gather again, this time to hear from student activist group ROYAL  (Revolutionary Oak Park Youth Action League) which spoke to crowds on the act as well.  

Oak Park resident Catherine Herenski, 42, followed the procession into Scoville Park and said when she heard what happened, she found it, “rather shocking” though, added that she was “given new hope to see how quickly word spread and how many people came out.” 

The incident is still being investigated by Oak Park police. There was no property damage to Live! Cafe and it remains fully operational. 


Correction (1/10/2021): A previous version of this story misspelled Reesheda Clark’s name as “Rasheeda.” The story has since been updated to reflect correct spelling.