A recent anti-immigrant act of vandalism on Browne's, a Kansas City Irish store, has been met with a huge surge of solidarity from all over the world and from immigrants who know this nativist-sentiment all too well. The graffiti was a scrawled "Immigrants Not Welcome."
Anti-Irish sentiment had long since dissipated from American society since its prime amid the 1840s influx of Irish immigrants during the famine, but this attack makes clear that nativism is alive and well in the U.S.
Kerry Browne is one of the owners of the store, the oldest Irish building in America. She says there is still no lead on who did the graffiti, but she is trying to work with as many people to tie-in as much evidence and details as possible. Despite being shocked and disheartened by the act, Browne is adamant that hate cannot overcome.
'Immigrants Not Welcome.' Vandals deface historic storefront Kansas City. This is the oldest Irish owned store in the USA. The people who run it are war & welcoming. This attack makes me sick. @nlbmprez @Yankeesfan004 @Scott_V8Ford https://t.co/unh92vcziq pic.twitter.com/E1fWCFbR91— Barry Bradford (@BarryMotivates) June 13, 2018
“Somebody meant it to be a bad and hateful thing, but there’s good that’s come of the outpouring of thousands of people from around the world, like Temple Bar in Dublin were there in solidarity,” Browne said.
“Whoever did it, I feel sorry for them and it’s a shame, but they aren’t going to deter us. What’s interesting too is that there’s a man from Italy who came in and a girl from Mexico, even though we’re an Irish place… I think they can all relate to it on a personal level; they’re immigrants,” Browne added.
The incident has been linked to the anti-immigrant rhetoric coming from Donald Trump’s America and the rise in isolationism in this country.
In spite of this, Browne argued the incident was not indicative of a larger trend of nativist resurgence.
"Immigrants Not Welcome" spray painted on Browne's Irish Marketplace, a Kansas City storefront founded in 1887 by Irish immigrants. The marketplace has been recognized by the Irish government as the oldest Irish building in North America. https://t.co/M6HedneCQ8— Surf City Writer (@SurfCityWriter) June 12, 2018
“There’s people going to hate, but there’s still a lot of people who are going to love in response to it and just be kind in return...I think we can’t say that the world is going a certain way because then we’d have to ignore all the kindness that’s a thousand times bigger than the others, so I think we’ll still prevail,” Browne expressed.
She has received plenty of support from all over from people who were incensed by this act of hate and is determined to continue welcoming and supporting immigrants.
“I’m so humbled by the outpouring of everybody from the community; people from all over are bringing us flowers and giving us a hug, or just telling us a story about their parents who were immigrants and what they gave to the city, and just how we’re a cornerstone of the community and that we’ve always welcomed immigrants of any group,” she concluded.