ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - Tuesday, a St. Pete business owner is responding after her store was vandalized on Black Friday.
Owner of Cultured Books, a book store that CW44 reported about in June 2020 that aims to share positive stories of people of color, says her store was gunned with paint balls on Black Friday. Lorielle Hollaway says books like this one are still covered in paint. She says it's a disappointing site to see, but since then, she's received hundreds of messages of support. It's something she's thankful for. "We're a place for families when they need books that affirm their existence. That they are here, they are loved, they are valued," said Hollaway.
Walking into the store called cultured books in St. Pete, you'll see a diverse selection of stories. "We have books not just about black people, but all people, and demographics from East Asian to Indian." Hollaway says she was excited to open her store on Black Friday, until she got a notification. "It was a one star review. The reason why was because there were no books for white kids and it was a very racial discrimination kind of place. That's what the reviewer posted," said Hollaway.
Less than three hours later, while her daughter was organizing books on a stand outside, she noticed something was off. "It's yellow, so i'm thinking it's some egg nest or something but then as we look through what's going on, it's paintballs, paintball shells, and paint all over the books," said Hollaway.
Hollaway says about 15 books were damaged and now paint covers the outside of the building. She isn't sure if the review and paint incidents are related. "It was emotional to see the books destroyed," said Hollaway. Since then, she says the support has been incredible. "We've had people purchase the damaged books." While she's upset, Hollaway has one message for the person who left the review. "My hope is that he opens his eyes and sees that, you know, just because you don't see a white face on the book, doesn't mean that book shouldn't be read."
Hollaway says the incident was filed with St. Pete police on November 27, 2020. The Google review was removed about 24 hours after it was posted.
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