Erin Meader had just driven by her restaurant the night before when she got the message.
Meader, the manager of the Black Angus at Rancho California and Ynez roads in Temecula, said she still drives by the restaurant regularly even though it remains closed amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
When she went by Saturday, June 13, everything was fine, she said.
On Sunday morning, one of her employees messaged her with pictures of graffiti scrawled on the side of the building. And not just any side – the two walls with graffiti were on the side of the restaurant most visible to thousands of drivers passing by each day through one of Temecula’s busiest intersections.
And it wasn’t just any graffiti, either. One of the vandalized walls spelled out “RIP Floyd BLM!” – phrasing that immediately cast suspicion toward Black Lives Matter protesters who had been out at the corner of Rancho California and Ynez roads almost every day, since May 30.
“I immediately drove out there to ensure there was no other damage to the building,” Meader said. “I contacted my facilities and my boss … The police were already there when I got there; they just took an incident report. Then the Temecula Code Enforcement called me and told me we had 36 hours to have the graffiti removed, and so we were planning on having it painted.”
Meader said she was at first very upset to find the graffiti.
“Even if it’s not my personal property, I work 50 hours a week and that’s my baby, and I’m a single mom and Black Angus have been amazing employers,” she said. “I started as a food server and now I’m a general manager, so I have a lot of love – I love this company, and I just have a lot of gratitude. I do take my job very seriously, so just seeing (the restaurant) hurt like that, and on that major intersection, just how bad it was, and in Temecula, it’s such a great community…”
Meader wasn’t the only one who was upset. Images of the graffiti from various passing motorists were shared to local Facebook groups, and many commenters decried the vandalism.
But after Meader left, something happened that she didn’t expect, she said.
“I got a phone call from one of the managers at Chili’s across the street, and she told me the Black Lives Matter group found out what happened to the building, and there was about 20 people out there cleaning the building,” Meader said.
An organizer of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Temecula said his group had nothing to do with the graffiti, but helped clean it up anyway.