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Coffee stand arson points to hate crime

Wed., Jan. 22, 2014, 11:37 a.m.

Customers support Spokane Valley sisters

Coffee sales are brisk at a Spokane Valley stand where two young owners were targeted with a racial slur and an attempted arson at their 7-month-old business.

“People have been coming by just making sure we are okay. People telling us we are doing a good job; we are supported. Even people who we’ve never seen before have been coming by,” said Coffee Break co-owner Diana Na. “We have a lot of great customers and we’ve had a lot of great feedback. That’s what’s motivating us.”

The arson attempt is being investigated by Spokane Valley Fire Department, said Spokane County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Craig Chamberlain. It’s unclear if the act will be pursued as a hate crime.

Jenn Na, co-owner, made the unpleasant discovery at Coffee Break early Tuesday when she arrived to open the stand before dawn.

First, she noticed the smell of gas; later, a burnt piece of crumpled paper and a charred outside wall. Investigators determined someone had poured gas around the building’s perimeter and tried to set it on fire.

Jenn Na saw the red spray-painted mess in the parking lot after sunrise: “Go back to China.”

The women are Korean, Diana Na said.

The sisters, who also attend Eastern Washington University, have no idea who would do anything like this. Unfortunately, there are no suspects and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office can’t move forward, said Diana Na. The women continue to look through the business’s surveillance tapes, but haven’t seen anything so far.

This isn’t the sisters’ first experience with racism. Their parents, also local business owners, were targeted when several years ago. Someone spray painted “go home” on their dad’s truck.

“What happened wasn’t surprising,” Diana Na said. “We know there’s racism out there, but it’s still shocking.”

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