Owner says 'Sanctuary restaurant' in Oakland vandalized with human waste

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- In the East Bay Monday, a restaurant owner believes he was the victim of a hate crime -- the target of vandals who defaced the front of a cafe with human waste, because owners offer sanctuary for all immigrants.

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it happened at Ba-Bite, a Middle Eastern restaurant on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland.

"First reaction, I cried a little bit," said Robert Gott, who got a huge shock when the front of his restaurant was vandalized.

Employee Leemor Benny was the first to see it. "I walked up, saw windows covered in sludge," he said. "Something that is just vile, smelled really bad."

Someone smeared the front doors of the cafe with human waste last week -- over signs that say "sanctuary restaurant," offering a safe space for Muslim, Arab, and immigrant neighbors.

"I like this to be a place where my employees feel safe, where my customers feel safe, and where I feel safe," said Gott. "I feel this took away that sense of safety and security."

Gott thinks the act was intentional. He put up the signs after President Trump, who promised to ban immigrants from Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S., was elected.

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"We have an pretty open door hiring policy," Gott told ABC7 News. "And my wife is an immigrant."

"I think they decided to make a little statement, but we are making a bigger statement," Leemor added. "We are not leaving."

Customers come here for the food, but now support the owners.

"To do something ugly is not productive," said customer Tonia Wright. "Not fair to this, to target this business."

Other businesses on Piedmont Avenue showing solidarity, but have seen no vandalism.

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Restaurant owners have filed a police report and will soon install surveillance cameras. They vow to keep their signs right where they are.
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