The Council on American-Islamic Relations has called on New Mexico lawmakers to investigate an apparent act of vandalism committed at a Santa Fe library earlier this month as a hate crime.
Employees at the Southside Branch library began noticing strange behavior from two people in early March. According to KOB4 TV, the couple were occasionally "loud and disruptive" and kept books around in order to more prominently display works written by Ann Coulter, as well as copies of the Bible. On at least one occasion, one of the two suspicious visitors was heard "muttering about how everything is under ‘surveillance,'" and had entered the library with "a large knife, sheathed, on his belt," a police report noted.
It's what library workers noticed after the pair left that's most significant.
At least three of the library's copies of the Qur'an were soaked "by a yellowish liquid substance" that smelled like urine, branch manager Leslie Simmons told police. A copy of former President Bill Clinton's autobiography My Life was also reportedly damaged.
While the couple was filmed by the library's security cameras, it's impossible to see which books they were handling during their visits to the Southside branch. However, KOB4 reports, the areas of the library in which the pair were filmed do correspond to where employees reportedly found the vandalized Qur'ans.
"Based on the behavior of the suspects in this case, we urge law enforcement authorities to investigate a possible bias motive for the destruction of library property," CAIR national director Ibrahim Hooper said in statement from the group.
No arrests have been made, but the act of vandalism has some Southside branch visitors shaken.
"That's very disappointing because I think libraries should be a safe place for sure," library patron Linda Fisher told the station. "There's just too much going on in our country right now with very little tolerance toward other people. It's very disappointing."
CAIR recently requested a hate crime investigation into a separate act of vandalism at an Arizona mosque earlier this week. There, over 100 copies of the Qur'an were damaged by an unidentified suspect who broke into the Islamic Center of Tucson. As the organization notes in its statement, both attacks come amidst an "unprecedented spike in hate incidents targeting Muslims and other minority groups since the election"