Family who have owned Missouri Irish market since 1887 say the political climate and anti-immigrant rhetoric in Donald Trump's America is to blame for this "level of hate" for their Irish heritage.
An Irish family-owned store in Kansas was targeted by anti-immigrant vandals over the weekend who scrawled “immigrants not welcome” on the well-known, Browne’s Irish Market, in Kansas City, Missouri.
According to the Irish store’s website it is the oldest Irish business in North America, having opened in 1887. It was founded by Irish immigrants Ed and Mary Flavin from Listowel, County Kerry and is run by the fourth generation of the family today.
One of the store’s owners, Kerry Browne, told the Irish Times that she blamed the increase in hostility on and anti-immigrant rhetoric on the fact that the “political environment has changed” in the last year and a half, since Donald Trump was elected as President.
Kansas City’s oldest business, Browne’s Irish Marketplace, is defaced with offensive graffiti. “Immigrants not welcome.” I am particularly offended. #Shameful #Brownes #BrownesIrishMarketplace #KansasCity pic.twitter.com/ztlPZKuWQR— Shannon O'Brien (@ShannonOBTV) June 11, 2018
Browne said “Sadly, people are looking at things differently now. It is a pity the hate that is out there, that level of hate. Whoever did it is surely an immigrant too.”
The Irish store owner told the Irish Times the attack reminded her of how her grandfather must have felt when he set up his own company and other traders had refused to do business with an immigrant.
She said “We can’t not be proud of being Irish because it is going to offend somebody. You don’t feel it as much now but this is how our grandparents and parents felt.”
A staff member of Browne’s, George Vial, from Killybegs, County Donegal, told the press a “horrible climate” has been created in America since Donald Trump was elected. The Donegal native has lived in the USA for 20 years.
He said “Living here day-to-day - and the conversations I have with people and the social media I see - the people who used to whisper this and keep it to themselves, they feel it is okay to say it out loud because the president says it’s okay and they supported him and they don’t need to hide it anymore - it is awful.”
“The Brownes are the nicest family in the world. These are the people who have populated America for the last 130, 140 years.
“ That somebody doesn’t even understand that, their own neighbors, and because they have an Irish sign out. It is just terrible.”
Another of the store’s owners Jon McClain told local media outlet KSHB "We are not about hate. We are about kindness and love. It’s a shame that somebody was ignorant enough to put that on the outside of our building," said McClain. "Our political environment right now seems to be nurturing a lot of this type of activity. I feel like in many ways we've stepped back about 50 years."
The Irish American shop owner said that he had filed a report with the police and a detective is being assigned the case. Sadly, McClain told KCTV5 that there are no security cameras on the shop and they currently have no suspects.