- A Black business owner purchased land for her mobile hair salon in North Carolina.
- Angel Pittman told Insider she was soon met with intimidation from her neighbor.
- She said her property was vandalized with the N-word and “bitch” spray-painted on her mobile salon.
Angel Pittman always knew she had a knack for hairstyling.
The 21-year-old’s passion started in her early teens. She began doing her sisters’ hair after they told Pittman that bullies had been harassing them in school.
“When I was younger, I knew my mom loved me, but she just wasn’t able to do my hair … because she worked so much. So I started trying to help my mom out and started doing my sisters’ hair,” Pittman told Insider. “I started to love the craft. I started to love how it helped my mom. I started to love how it helped my sisters. I started to love how it even helped me.”
Pittman’s dream would soon come true. But she told Insider she would have to put her passion on pause because a neighbor racially targeted her forcing her to relocate.
Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the owner of @hothaircompanyllc, Pittman wanted to expand and to do her craft anywhere at any time without being tied to one place.
So, at 18, she came up with the idea to start a mobile hair salon. She told Insider she saved up enough money to purchase less than an acre of land for $10,000 and and three school buses for $14,000 — she’d operate her salon out of one bus and convert the other into a tiny home.
“I could go anywhere in the world and put my salon in the middle of the street and just start doing hair,” she told Insider. “I can go anywhere. I can go to a lot where homeless people are and do their hair. I can go to Miami and do hair.”
But just as her dreams were becoming a reality, an incident of overt racism tore them all down.
Pittman said her property was destroyed just days after she purchased the land
Pittman and her mother managed to find land in Rowan County, North Carolina — about 42 miles outside of Charlotte — last September. She wanted to place three buses, all of them in pristine condition, on the property. Her plan was coming together.
But when she and her parents returned to her land days after closing the sale, she discovered that someone had vandalized her buses. Photos given to Insider by Pittman, show her buses spray-painted with profanity, including “bitch” and the N-word. Her parents called the police. Pittman said she broke into tears.
“When I first saw that I thought I was dreaming because I would’ve never thought in the million years that someone would even have that much hate in their heart to sit there and write on someone else’s property,” she said.
According to the most recent data the FBI released in March 2023, overall, hate crimes increased by 11.6% from 8,120 in 2020 to 9,065 in 2021. Roughly 8,300 hate crimes were committed against individuals in 2021, and of that number, the FBI classified 43.2% as intimidation. Of roughly 3,800 hate crimes against property, 71.2% of them were “acts of destruction/damage/vandalism.”
Separately, just this month, a judge sentenced a 24-year-old Mississippi man to 3 ½ years in prison after he plead guilty to a federal hate crime. Federal officials said the man, identified as Axel Cox, tried to intimidate his neighbors and admitted he burned a cross “because of the victims’ race and because they were occupying a home next to his.”
Pittman told Insider that she recalled a strange interaction with her neighbor, who said it “was his sister’s land,” before the vandalism. However, she said she explained to the man that she had purchased the land.
Pittman said she soon noticed other things in her neighbor’s yard that she hadn’t seen before, including Confederate flags and statues glorifying the KKK.
And while she and her family were sitting in the car trying to make sense of the situation, Pittman said the same neighbor approached her family with a gun in his hand and demanded that they get “off his yard,” though they weren’t near it.
Pittman said she did not know the man’s name and had no footage of who committed the vandalism because she did not have cameras installed on her property at the time. However, she filmed other confrontations and posted snippets in an Instagram post and TikTok earlier this year.
It ‘hurts me really bad’
When Rowan County police arrived at the scene, Pittman said her mother filed a report because she was distraught, and authorities did not offer much help to resolve the situation.
Pittman first spoke to The Guardian about her encounter and after the outlet’s initial reporting, the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office told the outlet that it had reached out again to Pittman and her family about the case. The police also told the outlet that Pittman’s mother “never reported that any threats had been made to her or anyone else.”
“This is the first time I’ve ever had to deal with the police or call the police in my life,” Pittman said. “This is the first time and they let me down.”
Rowan County Police Captain Mark McDaniel told Insider that the responding deputy, who has worked in the area for years, told the family that the neighbor was known to have those items in his yard long before she moved in. Pittman, however, disagreed.
“There was no sign that he did not like Black people. There was no sign that he hated black people. But when I come back, when my bus got destroyed, there’s two Ku Klux Klan statues in your yard, swastika symbols everywhere,” she told Insider. “And it is scary.”
A statement from the sheriff’s office dated March 23 said that the agency reached out to Pittman’s mother “to see if they would like to make any further comment or complaint in reference to this incident” to which “she advised us that she would speak with the others involved and get back to us.”
After the ordeal, Pittman and her father drove two of the defaced buses back to Charlotte.
The third bus wouldn’t run at the time. A mechanic later told Pittman that the wires had been cut, that the catalytic converter was missing, and that someone had left excrement inside of the bus.
“It was very emotional and scary,” she said. “The whole time while I’m driving the bus, I’m sitting there crying the whole time because I’m like, ‘This is something that I dreamed of doing and that I prayed about. This was something that was mine, this was my dream. I did it.’ And then it was just easy for somebody to just literally poop on it like it’s nothing.”
She started a GoFundMe in November to help her to move to a safer place in Charlotte and be closer to her family. She has since raised over $118,00 as of Saturday.
Now, months after the incident, she has continued to do hair out of a suite she rents in the city until she gets back on her feet. Though working has been a good distraction, she said she has been depressed because of the situation.
“For it to be taken away just because I’m Black, just because somebody doesn’t like me because of the color of my skin, is crazy and it most definitely hurts me really bad,” she said.