In a recent letter to The Davis Enterprise, the Oeste Manor Neighborhood Association sought to raise awareness about a series of crimes against the Davis Islamic Center. The mosque was allegedly vandalized several times, as recently as January.
Elizabeth Saft, chairwoman of the association, said she wrote the letter out of concern for the center and was puzzled as to why so many of the cases remain unsolved.
“We patrol the area quite a bit,” said Lt. Paul Doroshov of the Davis Police Department. “But there’s only so much we can do. I think the main thing the center can do is raise awareness about the issue through the media, as this is a crime by a group of people with no sensitivity.”
“It’s possible the crimes are related to the center, but it’s more likely the location [on Russell] and they have occurred late at night with intoxicated individuals,” Doroshov said.
Othman Alsaoud, president of the Davis Islamic Center, said the center received a stream of hate mail and one threat letter. The letters stopped earlier this year when he reported them to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Alsaoud also mentioned two separate incidents in which two men occupied the center between 2003 and 2004. He said the men slept in the center and talked about bearing arms, brought in dogs and harassed center members to the point where some members stopped attending the mosque.
“We needed protection and the police didn’t help when we called them,” Alsaoud said. “This was very serious. We ended up having to call the Saudi Arabian consulate to have one of the men deported.”
On Dec. 25, 2007, a crest from the dome of the center, which the Davis police valued at $5,000, was stolen. The two replacements were also stolen. These cases remain unsolved.
There was vandalism reported on Aug. 18, 2009, which resulted in about $100 worth of damage. On Feb. 28, 2010, four terracotta planters were smashed. Each planter was valued at $150. The suspects are unknown in these cases.
Doroshov said the crest thefts could be related to a trend of copper wire thefts in Davis and that he does not know how these criminals are specifically targeting the center.
“The crests were not copper,” Alsaoud said. “The police want the crimes to be connected with the copper thefts, but they are something more serious.”
The most recent act was on Jan. 22 around 1 a.m. Robert Linslon, 23, and Charles Hummer, 27, both of Davis, were arrested on the spot after Alsaoud chased them down and called the police. The two were charged with vandalism and are awaiting arraignment. The suspects broke a vase valued at $750.
“The police didn’t treat me normally,” Alsaoud said. “They acted like I was the one who perpetrated the crime. I could recognize them a year from now and you can see them clearly on the surveillance camera’s DVD recording.”
“To be blunt, I don’t think they want to show these as hate crimes because they want to keep the perception that Davis is a safe town,” Alsaoud said. “We just want to feel safe and secure. If it’s just drunken kids who are committing these crimes then why don’t they vandalize and trespass on the Christian groups down the street?”
Karen Newton, a board member of the Oeste Manor Neighborhood Association, said she would like the suspects to be prosecuted for charges greater than vandalism, such as trespassing and theft.
“I want to see the police make more of an effort,” Newton said. “There seems to be a long string of incidents and if the prosecution is taken seriously it will send a strong message.”
ANGELA SWARTZ can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.