Marty Johnston knows what it’s like to deal with hate. On March 10th he was headed to the Tucson Jewish Community Center but couldn't get in because the building was locked down after someone called in a bomb threat.
So, when someone broke into the building and destroyed more than 100 copies of the Quran at the Islamic Center three days later, Johnston took action. He first ranted about the vandalism on Facebook, but decided to do something about it when a friend from his synagogue messaged him about helping.
He started a Go Fund Me page to raise money to replace the copies of the holy books.
In three weeks the page has raised more than $14,000, better than he expected.
“The response says the Tucson community has come out to say that we're better than this and that there is no room for hate in the Tucson community,” said Johnston.
A separate Go Fund Me page started by Islamic Center staff has raised more than $11,000 to improve its security. At a press conference March 20, ICT spokesman Mahmoud Obagi said the center is now conducting lock down drills, and installing more security cameras and measures.
Since the break-in, Islamic Center staff has thanked the public on Facebook after a flood of kindness which includes monetary donations and flowers.
“We are hoping that bridges will continue to be built between the Muslim and Jewish communities and a new era of friendship and cooperation is starting where we will be able to continue to develop these friendships,” said Johnston.
After replacing the books, the center will use left over money and other donations to upgrade its security system.
Police still ask anyone who knows the person who vandalized the center to call 88-Crime.