Kelly Carter shakes the hand of Attorney General Mark Herring at the Anita’s Restaurant in Ashburn Feb. 23.
When Kelly Carter went to clean up after some customers on Jan. 7, she was shocked to find “great service don’t tip black people” written on her receipt. She was even more surprised when the note went viral after one of her regulars posted a picture on his Facebook page asking people to go to the Ashburn Anita’s restaurant and show her some love.
The event sparked an outpouring of community support culminating in a eat-in organized by the Loudoun County chapter of the NAACP. Loudoun residents, county officials and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring came to show unity and support.
“Their negative turned into an incredible positive,” Carter said.
Herring, a former Leesburg representative on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors and state senator, said he wanted to show support for Carter and amplify the NAACP’s statement that bigotry and intolerance have no place in Loudoun.
“When something like this happens, it’s really important for the community to come together and show support for the people who were hurt by it and to make a clear and strong statement that we are an open and welcoming and inclusive county,” Herring said.
Hate crimes have increased by 6 percent nationally and over 20 percent in Virginia, Herring said. He said his office is working to do more against bigotry like racism and anti-Semitism, which has also increased nationally. Herring said his office asked the legislature for more tools to help him prosecute hate crimes.
“We have been able count on the Justice Department and the Civil Rights Division to vigorously enforce our anti-discrimination laws and prosecute hate crimes and protect us when that happens,” Herring said. “Because of how the campaign went and how coarse the rhetoric was and actually confirmed by the beginning of the administration, I no longer have confidence that we can count on the Civil Rights Division and the Department of Justice to do that.”
The bill that would have given Herring’s office more authority to prosecute hate crimes was defeated largely on party lines, Herring said. In the meantime, his office has set up nohateva.com to .help marginalized communities see what laws protect them, how to report a hate crime and connect them with resources.
Loudoun NAACP President Phillip Thompson said the eat-in will hopefully show Carter and Anita’s that people from all over the county support her and the restaurant.
“When I heard what happened to Ms. Carter, I thought, ‘This doesn’t reflect Loudoun County,'” Thompson said. “The people of Loudoun County are fair, conscious-minded people. This is a good place to live.”
Carter said the couple who left the note were not regulars and were not rude to her. She’s also said she’d be happy to serve them again.
“I’m not brought up to hate. Everyone is equal,” Carter said.