ORLANDO, Fla. – An Orlando beauty shop was vandalized after people apparently mistook the business for another with a similar name following a viral video showing a woman using a racial slur, according to the owner.
Iris Mejia owns Beauty Bar Orlando on Hillcrest Street near E. Colonial Drive. Last week, her shop was vandalized with racial slurs. Phrases like, “Go back to your cage monkey” were plastered across her building with spray paint.
[TRENDING: Freak fishing accident: Boy airlifted to Florida hospital after catfish stabs him in chest | 2nd case of monkeypox found in Orange County, 1 case in Seminole County, records show | Become a News 6 Insider (it’s free!)]
People are harassing the shop owner because they mistook her business for another shop with a similar name.
Kristen Nguyen, an employee at King Cajun Crawfish on Mills Avenue, recorded video last week of a customer spewing racist phrases at her after being denied a refund for food she ate.
In the video, you can hear the customer address staff at the restaurant using racial pejoratives, saying, “Take your [expletive] back to your country.”
“We cannot accept this kind of behavior, which is the main reason I put it online,” Nguyen said.
She informed Community Relations District Liaison Officer Eddie Rosado of the incident.
“He advised her to stay alert and to immediately contact law enforcement to report any suspicious activity in the area,” the Orlando Police Department said in a statement. “Officer Rosado also referred this information to the chain of command, who reviewed the incident and proceeded to increase patrols in the area and conduct periodical business checks at 924 N Mills Ave.”
Nguyen said the customer owns a local beauty shop. News 6 has not confirmed the identity of the customer nor the business.
Angry social media users were quick to act. They began leaving bad reviews about the shop on Google and sending racially charged messages in return — but they targeted the wrong business.
Nigel Mejia is the Beauty Bar Orlando owner’s son. He said finding his mother’s business vandalized was a complete shock and that his mother would never spew hate like this.
“We shouldn’t be fighting hate with hate,” he said.
Iris Mejia said she has been in distress. The slew of hateful reviews on Google tarnished her once 5-star rating. She has also received threats to burn her business down.
Michelle Niesluchowski is a hairstylist who runs a separate business in the building. She said what is happening to Iris Mejia is devastating.
“It’s terrible. That’s not the answer for anything. You know, it’s just perpetuating more hate and more violence,” she said.
Niesluchowski called Iris Mejia amazing and kind. She said multiple people have also booked fake appointments at the shop, leaving nasty comments.
“It’s been a complete waste of money and time,” she said.
Nigel Mejia created a GoFundMe to help cover profit loss and clean up. So far, it has gained more than half the $10,000 goal.
Iris Mejia said she has filed multiple police reports. For their safety, she even put up surveillance cameras around the building.
She is pleading with the community to stop harassing her.