Johnson City business owner finds racist vandalism at local gym

DC Fitness Owner Derrick Carson said he noticed racist messages carved into the sidewalk in front of his business Monday morning.

When DC Fitness Owner Derrick Carson returned to work Monday morning after a brief weekend getaway in Pigeon Forge, he noticed racist vandalism on the front sidewalk of his business. 

“It messed with my heart this morning,” he said of his reaction to seeing “white pride” carved into the concrete. 

Carson, who is black, said he found the vandalism disheartening after the years of work he put into becoming a local business owner. 

“I had to get an accounting degree for people to trust me, and I have a cardiopulmonary science degree so they trust me medically with their health,” he said. “I’ve been through a lot, so to walk through my front doors and see that crap, it hit me in the heart this time.

“To put this here — at my front door — everybody has to see that when they walk in. It basically says, ‘The person that’s opened this business ain’t worthy.’ It hit me bad today.”

Carson said the exterior camera at the location wasn’t connected to the rest of the building’s interior security system, which created some difficulties in rewinding the surveillance. 

“All my interior cameras can be rolled back, and we can do whatever with them,” he said. “But I am next door to a bank, and banks have to have 360-degree surveillance all the way around the building, so the bank cameras definitely saw who it was.”

Carson said his family, workers and clients have been supportive since the incident, which he suspects happened sometime “early Sunday morning.” 

A GoFundMe fundraiser campaign has been started by Carson’s daughter Myah to raise $1,500 for repairs. Carson said dozens of his Facebook followers and friends have expressed their support for Carson and his business, as well. 

“This is one statement on my sidewalk versus hundreds that have poured in appreciating me for coming into the community and keeping this place open,” he said, adding that he has received some tips about who may be behind it.

Carson said he was in the process of filing a police report Monday afternoon, and he implored anyone with additional information to contact the Johnson City Police Department or Washington County Sheriff’s Office.