CLOVIS, California (KGPE) — As news spread of Old Town Clovis’ only black-owned business burglarized and vandalized with racist messages, many were quick to lend a helping hand to assure the owner she’s welcome in Clovis.
While it’s been difficult to deal with, the Just My Essentials‘ owner, Chanel Wapner, describes the incident as a minor setback. She plans to reopen her store when she restocks what’s been lost.
Wapner didn’t discover the mess until she got to her store Saturday morning, noticing graffiti on the front door. In the next couple of minutes, she’d notice the other damage the thief did and called her husband and Clovis Police.
Lt. Jim Munro with Clovis Police said someone forced their way into Just My Essentials through the back of the store sometime between Friday night and Saturday morning. Investigators are going over surveillance video in the area to find the suspect.
“This is just heartbreaking to me and so pathetic,” Wapner said of the damage. “What did I do to you?”
Aside from stealing most of her products and her register, the thief poured water into the other products to ruin them. But that’s not all, they also spray painted the n-word several times on the store’s walls. BLM, the acronym for Black Lives Matter, was also spray painted, only to cross it out.
Wapner said a couple of weeks ago, someone stopped by her store to tell her black lives don’t matter — but besides that she said she’s never had any bad experience in her store’s three-year stay in Clovis.
“I’ve had people calling me today saying I want to support you, this is not right. We don’t do this, it’s not who we are,” Wapner said. “[I said] you’re right, it’s not who we are. Whoever did it, it’s who you are.”
Wapner got more than calls, though, many from the Fresno-Clovis area stopped by all day to show support: from well wishes to even bringing a bouquet of flowers.
Clovis Mayor Drew Bessinger was one of those people, who took a moment with the rest of Clovis City Council — as well as Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig — to condemn what happened.
“We need to take care of each other a little bit more. We need to always have a united voice that [says] this is not acceptable,” Bessinger said.
It’s this support that’s helping Wapner push to get her store reopened. When we asked her what she’d say to the person responsible, she said, “If you think you’re running me out, if you think my life doesn’t matter, then you got it wrong buddy. My life matters, you are not running me out, I am rooted and grounded. I will rebuild and I’m staying right here.”
To help Wapner, Clovis city councilman Bob Whelan started a GoFundMe that surpassed its goal of $5,000 in less than two hours. It’s still taking donations, if you want to contribute, click here.