Edmonton

Barbershop targeted with racist graffiti to host anti-racism event

An event is planned for Sunday to support a barbershop owner who had his windows vandalized with racist, threatening graffiti.

'There is a more stronger and loving reaction to every one of these small hateful incidences'

Chop Shop Barber Shop will be hosting a community event on Sunday, less than a month after the windows were vandalized with racist graffiti. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

Less than a month after a west Edmonton barber shop was vandalized with racist graffiti, the shop will be hosting a community event to unite against racism.

In early December the windows of Chop Shop Barber Shop, at 18212 84th Ave., were vandalized with "Kill Muslims" and "Kill Lebs" along with a swastika.

"I'm not going to lie, I have a little bit of anxiety because of it," said Ahmad Akkashe, the owner of the barbershop.

"You're always questioning yourself. If people are looking at you with hatred or something else. You have this feeling of being unwelcome."

In response to the incident, Edmonton-McClung MLA Lorne Dach stopped into the barbershop to get his hair cut by Akkashe.

"I really realized how deeply affected he was by this graffiti attack," Dach said.

Dach and Akkashe are teaming up to host Cut Hate With Hair, an event where three barbers, including Akkashe, will volunteer their time cutting hair. The funds raised will be donated to the John Humphrey Centre For Peace and Human Rights.

Along with haircuts, there will also be music, food and possible discussion panels.

"I thought that there should be an opportunity for the community to raise themselves up and express their opposition to this hateful graffiti," Dach said.

The event is being organized by Akkashe, Dach, Edmonton-Meadowlark MLA Jon Carson and Jesse Lipscombe.

"What I think can actually happen is there is a more stronger and loving reaction to every one of these small hateful incidences," said Lipscombe. "I see it as an opportunity that we're definitely taking advantage of."

Lipscombe wants people to attend even if they don't need a haircut, but to participate in conversations he says are a big part of barbershop culture.

"Barbershops in general are the place where you go and talk about everything from politics to family, the kids, the dogs and you want to keep that same feel," he said.

"I think it's important that anytime where there is cases of hate and discrimination that we publicly also let Edmonton know that's speaking to the 0.01 per cent of who's actually here."

"It's more for those people who are uninformed or unenlightened individuals that are full of hate and occupy their minds with hate and they don't know why." - Ahmad Akkashe 

Akkashe said he would like to speak with the person who was responsible for the racist vandalism.

"It's more for those people who are uninformed or unenlightened individuals that are full of hate and occupy their minds with hate and they don't know why," Akkashe said.

The event will be held at Chop Shop Barber Shop on Sunday from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m

@Travismcewancbc

Travis.mcewan@cbc.ca