Mother's food truck vandalized after she participated in a local Pride event to support her son
Back in July, the owners of Salty Sistas showed support for a Pride event. Shortly after, the eatery’s food truck and the owner’s personal vehicles were vandalized.
Janette Georgitis is the owner of Salty Sistas, a food truck based in Sneads Ferry — a small community north of Topsail Island. After her son came out to her this summer, Janette brought the Salty Sista’s food truck to a local pride event to show support for her son and the LGBTQ community.
For some families, this can be a difficult experience, but for Janette the event was positive, at least at first.
“So basically, about a week before the pride event, my son had come out letting me know that he was pansexual. And we decided we were going to do the Pride events. And feeling the support from not only me, but from the rest of the staff. And so it was a great event. It was amazing," she said.
However, a few days later, Janette’s business and her personal vehicles were vandalized.
“And then a few days later, my son's tires were slashed. A few days after that, my tires were slashed, and then the food truck tires. And then about another, I guess it was like two weeks after the Pride [event], our air conditioning unit on the food truck, the lines were cut," she said. "Even the bolts were taken out of the air conditioning, which is attached to the back of the food truck, and then the last thing that happened was in between the last event last week. And the next morning, somebody had come they pulled all the wires out of our generator.”
The financial toll has been serious, Janette says.
“So [it] really stopped us from doing certain events. I mean, we're looking at between loss revenue and the repairs on that over $12,000 just for the month of July. So it's been really hard and it's hard on any small business owner like us... Just like a lot of Americans, we are paycheck to paycheck,” she said.
The vandalism took place over the course of three weeks. And according to Jannette, it’s a direct result of her presence at the Pride event. Janette didn’t think to report the vandalism to the police at the time; she was too focused on repairs and getting back to business, she said. Even if she did report the incident though, she didn’t have security cameras on her truck at the time. When Janette eventually went to the police, there wasn’t much they could do: she reported it late and didn’t have strong evidence of the vandalism.
Onslow County Sheriff Hans Miller called it a difficult investigation.
“That damage had been repaired by the time she called and she said that she hadn't thought to report it to us, to the sheriff's office at the time that they were found. And... of course that puts a burden on us because we've got to get the evidence, freshly and then... we could do an investigation to find out. Okay, who was around? Did anybody see something, whatever? But if it's old like that it's very challenging to conduct that investigation," he said.
Sheriff Miller encourages businesses and homeowners to install security cameras to document criminal activity. It helps the police identify suspects and prevent future incidents.
Although the police weren't able to conduct a formal investigation at Salty Sistas, Janette says that the police have continued to check in and show support for her business.
“I just was so upset, and let me try to fix this quickly before I lose any more business. So they were just giving me tips on, you know, getting a spotlight and... making sure the cameras are working and just really reassuring me that they're going to really be looking in on us and seeing what they can do to try to help me resolve all this," she said.
After speaking to the police, Janette got cameras installed at her food truck and restaurant and made it known on Facebook. But since then, she’s noticed bad reviews of her restaurant on google. She suspects they came from the same individuals who violated her property. She says she was devastated. You can repair damages, but you can’t get rid of bad reviews.
“I cried so many tears, and it wasn't like I wasn't mad. I was truly sad, and that there are human beings out there that are just that hateful. And it's okay for people to have different opinions and different lives. We don't, I certainly would never throw it in somebody's face, you know, and so I don't expect other people to put their beliefs on me. And I wasn't trying to do that, put our beliefs but I wanted people to know where we stand," she said.
Although Janette feared her and her family’s safety after the incident, she doesn’t regret showing support for her son and the LGBTQ community.
“He was lighter. He was excited. Just by the time he left that festival, he was like, Oh, my gosh, and I've met friends, and I've met people. And it's just for him. It's, he feels like he belongs now which is huge. And it's so important as a parent, like, why would I not? You know, try to support him on that? I've had a couple people tell me, ‘why are you speaking out or you shouldn't involve politics, you know, in your business,’ but I'm like, ‘this is my life.’ This is my livelihood. And this is my child. I'm going to scream it from the rooftop. And I'm not going to be afraid. Just because I'm a small business to speak out when there's an injustice," she said.