BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WISH) — A 32-year-old described as transient in court documents was arrested by police Thursday for vandalizing the Islamic Center of Bloomington.
While security footage shows Adam Walls damaging tables, fences and the building itself, he has not been charged with a federal hate crime.
“Seeing the footage of him being in that space just feels like a violation,” said Heather Akou, a board of trustee for the Islamic Center of Bloomington. “It’s where I go to feel safe and be with other people who understand and support me and to have someone committing such an act of violence in that space is really disturbing.”
Akou tells I-Team 8 while the center’s operators are relieved an arrest was made in the case, if there was any bias in Walls committing the crime, they hope he is charged with a hate crime.
Walls is charged with criminal mischief. Indiana does not have a hate crime statue, but if a judge finds Walls guilty of committing the crime with bias, that judge can add years to his sentence. Any potential hate crime charges would be up to federal authorities.
“If it’s simply dismissed without being investigated as a hate crime, that’s that’s definitely going to be a huge blow to the community,” said Fatima Hussain, the Muslim Alliance of Indiana board president.
Hussain joins the Council on American-Islamic Relation in Chicago and the Indiana Muslim Advocacy Network in their calls for Walls to be investigated for a hate crime. Hussain says if justice isn’t served to the full extent, it can emboldened others to commit similar offenses.
“It always creates that fear of a ripple effect,” Hussain said.
For Akou, she says the vandalism highlighted other times there have been attacks against the Muslim community in Bloomington.
Six years ago. she said, “A business owner was sitting outside of her café with her daughter, when a young man came up to her, pulled on her headscarf and started choking her with it yelling, ‘white power.'”
Akou says the Islamic Center of Bloomington is planning a gathering for the entire to community on Oct. 30 as a way to welcome anyone who wants to show them support.
“You can only be vigilant for so long, right?” Akou said. “We just want to worship in peace and be good neighbors.”
Bloomington Police Department reports it doesn’t foresee any more local charges being pressed against Walls. The FBI said they are providing assistance in the case but so far no federal charges have been filed nor has a federal investigation been announced.