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Sign with racial slur and derogatory term sparks discussion

The photo that was being circulated Saturday morning on Facebook showed the sign saying "Now hiring" and listed a racial slur and a derogatory term for women.

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. - Brooklyn Center was buzzing on Saturday after a photo of an Arby's sign appeared on Facebook.

The sign was the kind many restaurant chains use to advertise different things -- one with customizable letters.

The photo that was being circulated Saturday morning on Facebook showed the sign saying "Now hiring" and listed a racial slur and a derogatory term for women.

Brooklyn Center police say they are aware of what happened and that one of their officers was driving by when she noticed the racial slur and derogatory term. She then took it upon herself to remove the words as the Arby's was not open yet.

Police say they've since then spoken with the manager of the chain, and says the manager has requested extra patrols in the area.

KARE 11 has reached out to Arby's corporate for a response and received this:

"Overnight, a reader board at an Arby’s restaurant on Brooklyn Blvd was compromised, and someone put up a message that was extremely offensive. The message has since been taken down. We’re cooperating with local law enforcement officials and will take appropriate action against those involved. We apologize to everyone exposed to that message."

The sign since has been completely taken down, but Armstead Lewis' barbershop nearby was still abuzz with conversation. Lewis says a customer and his young son came in shocked after seeing the sign.

"I haven't seen my customers react like that," Lewis said. "The child -- I think he's traumatized. He kept on asking, 'Dad what does this mean?' I'm like man, we didn't know what to tell him."

Minneapolis North basketball coach Larry McKenzie was also one of Lewis' customers Saturday morning. He too, saw the sign on his way in, and snapped a picture.

"I actually literally had to turn around and go back because -- it was like -- did I really see what I saw kind of thing, but no, (there was) no question," McKenzie said.

Brooklyn Center Mayor Tim Willson says this is not what his city is all about.

"My heart just sank," Willson said. "It's not acceptable. It's not a reflection of our community. Somebody had mentioned it borders on hate crime and I think it does."

McKenzie says he will continue to talk about it because he believes dialogue is one way a city can get better.

"I mean that's one of the things we don't want to do in Minnesota," McKenzie explained. "We don't want to have the hard conversations and the reality of it is, Minnesota is not nice for everybody."

Mayor Willson says he's hoping someone will help get to the bottom of who might be responsible.

"I would ask that citizens and nonprofits and I'll talk to our police officers as well -- to see if we can offer a reward," Willson said. "I would encourage citizens or anybody else, who had been driving by, if they saw anything to come forward. This is not acceptable."

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