Agencies: Vandalism a hate crime

PHILADELPHIA - August 21, 2009 The Executive Director of the Arab American Development Corporation, Marwan Kreidie, says a number of agencies from the FBI, the DA's office, and the Human Relations Commission have vowed to look into this apparent hate crime. He spent the better part of the day speaking with various officials about the case:

"Everyone is looking at this as a hate crime and hopefully they'll find the perpetrators soon," Kreidie said.

As Action News reported on Thursday, the owners of the Premium Seafood Shop at 5th Street and Roosevelt Boulevard arrived to find their business had been heavily damaged by vandals. The refrigerated display counters had been overturned, glass windows and doors were shattered and broken, food and other items were scattered everywhere and vile, hateful graffiti covered the walls telling Iranians to go home. It turns out, the owners are Palestinian Americans, who have not yet returned to reopen for business.

"They're still very concerned, they're scared," Kredie said.

Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham is disgusted by the vandals responsible.

"It's always disturbing to me when I hear anybody telling people they don't have the right to live there, that they should get out of their neighborhood," Abraham said.

Police believe that more than one person is responsible for the vandalism and that the perpetrators live or work somewhere in the area. Abraham says she takes crimes of hate very seriously.

"And this is especially galling when people are working, making a living, want to live the American dream, providing for their family, giving a service to the community, to have your store trashed, and terrible words written on the wall to scare and frighten people," Abraham said.

Meanwhile, Choates General Contracting, who have an office next door to the seafood shop, have decided to lend a helping hand.

"They have insurance and those kinds of things, but whenever those situations like this, there's an immediate need to clean up, to get yourself back up and back into business and we want to offer anything we can do to help in that process," Mike Chamberlain of Choates General Contracting said.

Marwan Kreidie says the family is gratified by such generosity.

"They feel much better that they see the community supporting them, not just the Arab community, the community around them," Kreidie said.

Meanwhile, the search goes on for the persons responsible. DA Abraham says that if the crime is found to be motivated by hate, it adds a more serious dimension to the charges of breaking and entering, vandalism, and destruction of property.

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