Maplewood mosque vandalized in possible hate crime


courtesy of the Maplewood Police Department • Two youth were caught on security footage July 29 vandalizing the Islamic Institute of Minnesota Al-Salam Mosque in Maplewood. Police are seeking help from the public in identifying them.

Aundrea Kinney/Review • Two youth spray painted three outside walls of the Islamic Institute of Minnesota Al-Salam Mosque with a cross and text reading “Jesus saves.” Other graffiti included two drawings of male genitalia and text reading “F—k 69” and “666.”

courtesy of the Maplewood Police Department

courtesy of the Maplewood Police Department

courtesy of the Maplewood Police Department

courtesy of the Maplewood Police Department • Two youth were caught on security footage July 29 vandalizing the Islamic Institute of Minnesota Al-Salam Mosque in Maplewood. Police are seeking help from the public in identifying them.

Police seeking help identifying the culprits.

 

Maplewood Police are working to identify two young men who were caught on security footage as they vandalized a Maplewood mosque around 1:30 a.m. on July 29.

The youth spray painted three outside walls of the Islamic Institute of Minnesota Al-Salam Mosque with two drawings of male genitalia and a cross. They also spray painted text reading “Jesus saves,” “F—k 69” and “666,” which is a popular culture reference to the devil.  

On Aug. 5, the Maplewood Police Department released photos taken from the security camera footage along with a request for public assistance in identifying the youth.

“This type of crime is unacceptable and has no place in Maplewood. We encourage anyone with information to call us so we can work together to solve this crime,” Maplewood Public Safety Director Scott Nadeau said in a statement.

The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, CAIR-MN, also released a statement that day.

“Given the nature of the vandalism and the empowerment of Islamophobia nationwide by some of our nation’s top officials, we urge law enforcement authorities to treat this vandalism as a possible hate crime,” said CAIR-MN Executive Director Jaylani Hussein in the Aug. 5 release.

According to CAIR’s 2018 civil rights report, “Targeted,” in 2017 there was a 17 percent increase in anti-Muslim bias incidents. The report also found a 15 percent increase in hate crimes over the number documented in 2016.

Representatives of the Islamic Institute of Minnesota and Al-Salam Mosque could not be reached for comment.

 

Digging into the investigation

Cmdr. Dave Kvam with the Maplewood Police Department explained on Aug. 9 that during the ongoing investigation, police found a case of abandoned spray paint cans near the mosque. He said the case was found outside a nearby home that’s under construction, where it’d been left with other things for disposal.

“While it seems reasonable to think the cans used at the mosque came from the case, we do not think they were put back in that same recovered case,” Kvam said

He added that so far, police have found no connection to any other graffiti cases in the area, but they do suspect the “miscreants” responsible live in the area. He indicated that police plan to bring photos taken from the security footage to nearby schools to see if any teachers or school staffers can identify the youth.

The vandals will likely face misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor charges, should they be caught, Kvam said.

“Keeping in mind that police do not determine criminal charges, fourth-degree criminal damage to property seems most likely, should the suspects be identified,” he said. “That crime is a misdemeanor, though there is a provision for gross misdemeanor charges when the damage is motivated by bias. Ultimately, it would be up to the prosecutor to determine what level charge they believe appropriate.”

Gov. Mark Dayton issued a statement Aug. 7 condemning the Maplewood vandalism.

“Minnesotans of every faith have the right, guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution, to worship freely in safe and peaceful places. This despicable act of vandalism has no place in our state or country,” he said.

Dayton added on a personal level, “My prayers are with the families and faith leaders of the Islamic Institute of Minnesota’s Al-Salam Mosque. I thank the Maplewood Police Department for their investigation of this shameful crime. I echo their call for anyone with information about those responsible to come forward.”

Anyone with information about the suspects is asked to call the Maplewood Police Department at 651-767-0640 or 911, and ask to have the on-duty sergeant call them back. 

Tips can also be submitted through the department’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/maplewoodpd or at www.crimestoppersmn.org. Tipsters are also asked to reference case number 18021195 when supplying information.

 

– Aundrea Kinney can be reached at 651-748-7822 or akinney@lillienews.com

Rate this article: 
Average: 2.7 (6 votes)
Comment Here