Swastikas painted on rocks left outside Lakeland business

- Nazi symbols have been found painted on rocks outside of a downtown Lakeland business owned by Muslims.

Earlier this week, Alaa Shalaby discovered that someone had left a rock painted with a swastika at the back door to his business, Urban Appeal, a trendy clothes store on Kentucky Avenue. The next day, he found a second one in the same place.

"I just laughed," said Shalaby. "I laugh at hate, to be honest with you."

Others are reacting much more strongly.

Scott Urquhart is the founder of Lakeland Rocks, a movement where people paint rocks with positive messages and hide them for other people to find. He described the swastika incident as, "disgusting," to FOX 13.

Ellen Simms co-owns Two Hens and a Hound, a frame shop just down the street from Urban Appeal. Simms is put-off as well.

"It is hate born out of ignorance," she said.

The store surveillance camera may have caught the guilty parties. It shows two guys right before Urban Appeal opened the day the first rock was found. One moves out of frame. The other appears to put something outside the store's backdoor.

This is not the first time Shalaby has been put in an uncomfortable situation since the store opened a little less than two years ago. Someone put a note on his car saying, "Go back to where you came from."

Shalaby and his brothers, who co-own the store were born in Miami.

A few months ago, someone threw food at his front store window.

Instead of reacting with anger or hate, Shalaby is painting hundreds of rocks with sayings like "All life matters," and names of great social justice leaders, such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

He plans to distribute them around town soon.

"I would pretty much turn the other cheek, where someone would slap me and I would show peace," he said.

In the meantime, the Lakeland Police Department is investigating.

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