Anti-immigrant graffiti attack on Irish bar in Kansas City

‘Immigrants not welcome’ sprayed on Brownes Irish Market, which was founded in 1887

Graffiti is seen on  well-known Irish bar and restaurant Brownes Irish Market in Kansas City, which claims to be the oldest Irish business in North America. Photograph: Brownes Irish Market

Graffiti is seen on well-known Irish bar and restaurant Brownes Irish Market in Kansas City, which claims to be the oldest Irish business in North America. Photograph: Brownes Irish Market

 

US police are investigating an anti-immigrant graffiti attack on a well-known Irish bar and restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri.

“Immigrants not welcome” was written in black spray paint on the Brownes Irish Market, which claims to be the oldest Irish business in North America, in an act of vandalism discovered on Monday.

Founded by immigrants Ed and Mary Flavin from Listowel, Co Kerry in 1887, the business, located in the centre of Kansas City in the American Midwest, is run by the fourth generation of the family.

Owner Kerry Browne blamed the attack on the increased hostility and anti-immigrant rhetoric that has developed in American politics over the past year and a half.

“Certainly the political environment has changed,” she 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.”

Kansas City is split over two states, Kansas and Missouri, two traditionally Republican states that voted for US president Donald Trump.

George Vial, a native of Co Donegal, who works at Brownes is interviewed about the anti-immigrant graffiti. Photograph: Brownes Irish Market
George Vial, a native of Co Donegal, who works at Brownes is interviewed about the anti-immigrant graffiti. Photograph: Brownes Irish Market

‘Horrible climate’

Ms Browne remains neutral politically in business. The attack reminded her of how her grandfather felt when he had to set up his own company because some traders would not do business with an immigrant.

“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,” said Ms Browne, who lived in Co Kerry for a time.

One of the Browne’s employees George Vial, a native of Killybegs, Co Donegal who has been living in the US for 20 years, puts the attack down to the “horrible climate” created by Mr Trump.

“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,” he said.

“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 neighbours, and because they have an Irish sign out. It is just terrible.”