Owners of a Bradenton business say they are the target of a hate crime.
Chef Jim Copening and his wife, Donna Slawsky, received a threatening phone call from someone who claimed to be a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
The couple, who owns Arts & Eats Restaurant and Gallery in the Village of the Arts, said they received the following voice mail:
“My name is Ralph Edward and I'm the leader of the KKK in this area and I'd like you people to leave this neighborhood now. We don't want you here no more. Get the [expletive] out."
Copening has some words for the person who left the voice mail.
"What I want to say them?" he said. " 'You’re a coward, brother, you need to go work your stuff out, but not over here. I didn’t come to your place starting nonsense with you, so don’t come to mine.' "
Slawsky said she found the voice mail very upsetting.
"The KKK...I mean, it brings to your mind all these pictures of scary people doing horrible things to black people," she said. "It’s awful."
The couple says they are staying put, and that it's business as usual.
"I’m not gonna have it," Copening said. "I’m not gonna have it, I’m not going to accept it, it’s unacceptable."
Zoe von Averkamp owns a neighboring gallery called Divine Excess Folk Art.
"I think in this day and age, it’s very sad and very appalling that there is still that element out there," she said.
Von Averkamp said the community is keeping an eye out for their friends.
"We’re a very close-knit community here and we look after each other, whether we have a business or we just live here," she said. "And I know everybody is feeling the same way and they will all want to look out for Jim and Donna."
It's support that Copening and Slawsky say they appreciate as they go through something they thought was a thing of the past.
"I didn’t understand this until yesterday, that bigotry is alive and well," Slawsky said.
"I’m contributing to this community," Copening said. "They’re trying to contaminate it."
Bradenton police say they are investigating the report, and they have increased patrols in the area.