While she wishes she didn't have to do it, Common Roots Cafe co-owner Elana Schwartzman says writing a "Hate has no business here" sign and putting it up in her cafe window felt necessary. She says it was the restaurant's way of offsetting the negativity she and her colleagues were feeling around "hate-filled rhetoric from the Republicans."
"We don't want our customers to feel afraid or unsure when they come here," she said. They decided to take a small action, with help from a Somali customer, and drew up the sign, placing it in their cafe window. Soon, other business began asking for it, along with Main Street Alliance, an organization which works to provide small businesses a voice on public policy issues. That group is now providing the sign electronically to businesses around the country. Businesses wishing to obtain an electronic version of the sign can download one here.
Main Street elucidated their distribution of the sign this way:
"The member businesses of the Main Street Alliance and our fellow small business owners throughout the country are deeply disturbed by the rising tide of hateful rhetoric and violence aimed at our Muslim and Arab community members, at refugees fleeing violence, at immigrants and at people of color in our communities. This swell of hate and fear permeating our national dialogue is dangerous. We believe it must be met head-on with clear statements of principle from local business owners because we are leaders in our communities.
"America must be a place where people from all nations, races and creeds seeking freedom and opportunity feel welcome and can build safe, prosperous lives for themselves and their families. When politicians and pundits target people in our communities for political gain, when they fan the flames of hatred and fear, when they attack our neighbors, friends, family members, fellow business owners, employees, and customers, we must stand up and make our voices and our values heard loud and clear."
So far, about 800 individuals have signed a forum on the website in favor of the campaign.
A similar version of the sign is also available via the Common Roots website, where they state:
"As small business owners, we see our restaurant as a community gathering place. We felt that in the face of the xenophobic, hate-filled rhetoric that has entered the mainstream, we could not remain silent. We put up a sign to make it clear to Muslims, immigrants and refugees in our community that they are welcome in our place of business and that we stand by their side."
Locally, the signs have appeared at Ward 6, the Nicollet, Wilde Roast Cafe, Chef Shack, Capitol Cafe, and other businesses in addition to restaurants.
At Capitol Café, Kayf Ahmed said the impact of the sign on customers is an important one. Some of them who've been the victims of discrimination need to feel at ease, knowing they're coming into a welcoming space. “Many people are unsure whether people they interact with on a daily basis agree with Donald Trump — it can feel scary,” Ahmed says.
The restaurateurs say the signage is a way to offset the fear and to spread inclusiveness and love. Schwartzman says the feedback to the signage has been "overwhelmingly positive."