LAYTON, Utah — The owners of a Filipino and Asian fusion food truck say they are overwhelmed and filled with gratitude because of how their Utah community stepped in after their vehicle was vandalized with racist, hateful messages.
A Layton city representative said the Layton City Police Department is now investigating the vandalism.
Photos posted to Facebook show the graffiti-covered Yum Yum Food Truck after the incident over the weekend.
Ben Pierce and his 21-year old son, Brevin, run the food truck together. They are passionate about sharing Filipino food with the community, especially because Pierce said there aren't many Filipino restaurants in Utah.
"We love the new people that never, ever tasted it before," Pierce said.
He described loving to watch customers walk away and take their first bite, then turn back around to tell them how delicious it is.
In addition to sharing food, Pierce loves to share what his family is all about with the community.
"They get to see how hard-working we are, how dedicated we are to our family, just like American values," he said.
When Pierce came out to work on the food truck Sunday in Layton, he found one entire side of the black truck covered in white spray paint.
"I was like, 'Are you kidding me?'" He recounted. "At first... I thought it was just, you know, like scribbles."
Upon looking closer, Pierce could see that the white scribbles were actually racist, vulgar words. In addition to the hateful words, someone wrote, "Leave our country."
That is what hurt Pierce the most to read.
"This is home," Pierce said, tearing up as he spoke. "This has been home for... I've been here longer. My kids are born here. So that's the tough part, yeah."
Even tougher was knowing that this wasn't the first time Yum Yum Food Truck has been targeted.
Last year, as Ben and Brevin were trying to get Yum Yum Food Truck off the ground, Pierce said their generator was stolen.
They replaced it with a bigger generator. Two days later, Pierce said, that new generator was also stolen.
"And then they broke into it, broke the locks, broke the back door handles," Pierce said of a third incident. "They cut the lock on that side, they got in and took our cooking equipment. This is all before we even opened up."
Neighbors like Dustin Robinson saw the most recent vandalism and wanted to do something to help.
"It turned into a lot of sadness and just sorrow for them, knowing that they'd had multiple break-ins, burglaries," he said.
Robinson and another person organized a GoFundMe campaign, and several businesses have offered their services for free -- including a new logo for the truck and a complete wrap.
"I think the biggest part is just knowing that they're loved, just knowing that the community's rallied around them," Robinson said.
Pierce was speechless at the support and called those who reached out to him "angels."
"Unbelievable, man. It's just so... we're blessed," he said. "I can't even put words to it."
Pierce has painted the truck white on the side to cover up the hateful messages. He plans to get it back up and running and will be at the Philippine Independence Day celebration this Saturday.
The family is asking people to come to support the Filipino community Saturday at the celebration, which will be held at Jordan Park in Salt Lake City (1060 S. 900 West) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
This story was originally published by Lauren Steinbrecher at KSTU.