Businesses and officials in Austin, Texas, want to identify the culprit behind offensive stickers plastered on at least six shops this week.
The labels, slapped on various storefronts, say: "Exclusively for white people. Maximum of 5 colored customers, colored BOH (Back of House) staff accepted."
Austin Mayor Steve Adler condemned the stickers Wednesday. The stickers feature an unauthorized use of the city's logo and a claim that the offensive statement is endorsed by officials.
"This is an appalling and offensive display of ignorance in our city," Adler said in a statement Wednesday. "Austin condemns this type of hurtful behavior. Our city is a place where respect for all people is a part of our spirit and soul.”
The stickers were first noticed between midnight and 7 a.m. Wednesday in East Austin, a historically black neighborhood that is home to a growing community of artists.
The owner of Sugar Mama's Bakeshop told NBC affiliate KXAN that the stickers may be an attempt at satire or a statement on gentrification in the neighborhood. But "as a multiracial family with a multiracial staff, there’s nothing funny about this," Olivia Guerra O’Neal said.
"It’s sick, and its cowardly message can be read many ways, none of them positive," O'Neal added. "We are disgusted by this act of vandalism and cowardice.”
A taco eatery, grocery store and bike shop were also among the targeted businesses. City officials and police said they are monitoring the situation.
“Sure, it’s offensive, but it’s also just a sticker,” Sarah Goeth, the owner of Windmill Bicycles, told KXAN. “It’s easy to take down. I’ve got a business to run.”