SEATTLE - Community members are trying to repair and re-open an afterschool educational center in South Seattle, after someone broke in and vandalized it with racial slurs and hate graffiti.
“I mean, it's painful but it's a rallying cry.” Malakhi Kaine says it’s hard to see some of the hateful words and images written on the walls of Africatown Center for Education and Innovation. There are racial slurs, swastikas and threatening messages.
“After you get over the emotional hump, you realize this something based on ignorance and someone trying to intimidate you,” he says.
The burglar also stole electronic equipment and damaged computer systems, forcing the center to cancel their afterschool programs for students all week.
“As soon as this happened, it shut down everything,” says Dijan Ahmad, an Africatown volunteer.
“We are a fledging organization that does not receive government funds or any subsidies, so it's very hard on us,” adds Kaine.
Police are continuing to investigate, but they’ve already arrested Ammanuel Haile-Leul, a former volunteer of the school. He appeared before a judge on Thursday.
“I think there is probable cause for the crime of burglary and attempted malicious harassment,” the judge said, as she set Haile-Leul’s bail at $50,000.
Volunteers say they don’t want to talk about the suspect or why he might have done this. They’re focused on getting the center back open, hosting a sale today to raise money for repairs and new equipment.
“We’re just trying to do something,” says Ahmad, “not just sit around and depend on aid from outside.”
Ahmad is grateful for all the support from the community.
“They really want this center to succeed. That's why some of them just came, they don't want this stuff, they just want to patronize our center.”
Kaine says hate isn’t going to stop them.
“We’re here for the long haul. We're ready to rebuild and regroup and get restarted doing what we do.”
Africatown will be hosting a community meeting for those interested in helping. It’s scheduled for 4 pm Sunday at 3100 S Alaska St.