Store destroyed in apparent hate crime

August 20, 2009 7:23:58 PM PDT
There is outrage in the Arab community over what is seen as the utter destruction of a family's business just because vandals thought they were Iranians. Now, a group is asking for a full investigation of what they describe as a despicable hate crime. Marwan Kreidie of the Arab American Development Corp. says, "We have already asked the city. I've contacted the Mayor's office, the Human Relations Commission, I've contacted the Police Commissioner, Lynne Abraham because I really want this to be taken seriously as a hate crime."

Philadelphia Police detectives were on the scene at the Premium Seafood shop at 5th Street and Roosevelt Blvd. It was devastating - large refrigerated display counters and other equipment overturned, glass windows and doors shattered and broken, food and other items thrown all over the place, and the walls spray painted with graffiti telling Iranians to go home.

It turns out the owners and operators are not Iranian, or for that matter Persian. They are Arabs, more specifically, Palestinian Americans.

"From all indications from my investigation so far, preliminary investigation, I believe it's a hate crime and it should be investigated as such," said Kreidie.

Mike Chamberlain, who owns a business next door, says the problems at the premium seafood shop began last week. "There was some graffiti on the front of their store that said, 'Iranians Go Home!'"

The owners, who declined to speak on camera, thought it was an isolated incident that would go away, but apparently not.

Chamberlain described the owners of Premium Seafood as, "Hard-working people. Very nice people - very sociable. 2 cute little kids. It's a shame that something like this would have to happen."

Marwan Kreidie says there are approximately 5 to 10 thousand Arab Americans who live in the Feltonville section. "And it's very interesting because Feltonville is the community where the largest percentage of Arab Americans live in the city. So, it's not a single Arab owned business."

The owners have no idea who would want to do this to them, but they are fearful of reprisals, which is why they did not want their faces on television. Kreidie says he will contact the FBI tomorrow asking the matter be investigated under federal hate crime statutes.


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