Almost all supposed anti-Muslim hate crime investigations end with no evidence and no suspect. But a lot of taxpayer resources wasted and police catering to the invaders.
With no new evidence and no suspect, the Westbrook Police Department has closed an investigation into anti-Muslim threats found at an apartment complex in August.
Despite the apparent dead end, however, the police department’s response has quelled some of the fear that rippled through the local Muslim community after the discovery of the typewritten messages that read: “All Muslims are Terrorists should be Killed.”
“They tell all the people in Westbrook Pointe, ‘Don’t worry, you are safe here,’ ” said Ahmed Ali, an Iraqi immigrant who lives in the apartment complex.
The unresolved case fits a national trend, as experts say many hate crimes are not prosecuted and few cases result in a conviction.
The Westbrook case began Aug. 17, when an Iraqi resident of Westbrook Pointe reported finding the anti-Muslim message. The words “All Muslims are Terrorists should be Killed” were typewritten on a strip of paper roughly 2 inches high by 8½ inches wide. Officers found another, identical message on the ground in the complex and learned two others were found by Iraqi residents there who did not immediately report them to police.
At the time, Police Chief Janine Roberts said there was no evidence the threat was credible. Still, the department called a community meeting with Muslim residents to answer questions and worked overtime shifts in the neighborhood for three weeks.
“During these three weeks, no further similar incidents were reported or discovered,” Roberts said. “The officers did report proactive contact with a variety of residents, furthering our relationships and problem-solving approaches.”
The state crime lab could not identify fingerprints or DNA on the papers. Interviews with nearby residents did not turn up clues, and no witnesses came forward. The chief, who meets regularly with leaders in the city’s immigrant and Muslim communities, told them in November she had no evidence to proceed.
“At this point, it is closed pending additional information,” Roberts said.
Faysal Kalayf, vice president of the Iraqi Community Association of Maine, said the officers’ presence calmed the residents at Westbrook Pointe.
“They were working almost 24 hours to make sure the Muslims and the Iraqi community were safe,” Kalayf said.
Ali, 51, moved to the United States in 2013 after working with the American military in Iraq. When he heard about the threatening notes found in his apartment complex, he felt afraid for his three children and his wife.
“I think for one week, no one goes out, the children or the women or the big men,” Ali said. “All the people who have to go to work go fast to work in the car and come back.”
Ali attended the meeting where the Westbrook police promised Muslim residents their support. Even though the department has not found the person who left the threats, Ali said many of his neighbors and friends felt reassured after that gathering.
“All the people now feel like they can trust the police,” he said.
Mahmoud Hassan, president of the Somali Community Center of Maine, said the police department’s response made residents of Westbrook Pointe feel protected. Even though many Muslims and immigrants still worry about harassment in their daily lives, Hassan said they now know they can approach local officers with a problem.
Wasn’t that the end-goal all along?
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