DES MOINES, Iowa -- A Des Moines community center for the Monsoon Asians and Pacific Islanders in Solidarity organization was badly vandalized over the weekend.
Des Moines police said a neighbor alerted them to suspicious activity at the home Monday afternoon, and when they arrived, they found thousands of dollars in damage and vandalism.
“I think we are hurt. We are more hurt than we are angry. And at this point, we are focusing on moving forward. We are focused on trying to figure out how to return this space to the condition it was before, for it to be a space that again is for the community,” Monsoon Asians and Pacific Islanders in Solidarity Assistant Director Hieu Pham said.
The organization believes the vandalism started over the weekend because of how extensively the center was damaged.
Pham said every single wall is now covered in vulgar graffiti and gang related symbols.
“Even the leaves of the plants have spray paint. There are multiple doors with holes in them. Windows have been broken. Computers, items and appliances in the house have also been damaged and that includes our refrigerator. Things are also missing,” Pham said.
Des Moines police said they are still investigating, but they may have some leads after they found items they believe were left behind by the vandals.
“It’s certainly not kids being kids. I mean this is criminal damage to somebody else’s property, and it’s the property of an organization that serves our community, which makes it even more frustrating,” Des Moines Police Sgt. Paul Parizek said.
The Monsoon organization uses this home as their community center and holds support group meetings for victims of assault, domestic violence and human trafficking.
“Through blood, sweat and tears and the efforts of the community, we really came in here and painted and remodeled, fixed this place and turned it into what it was: into a healing space. We made it beautiful, so that's why it's especially hurtful to see it damaged in this way,” Pham said.
Pham said she believes they can come back stronger from this, but it is going to take a lot of time.
“Insurance or donations might replace the things that are missing and they might help you with the damage, but the feeling of being violated and that vulnerability and the lack of security that comes over you when something like this happens; it’s going to take a while to get past that,” Parizek said.
Pham said the community has already shown a lot of support through donations, but they welcome clean up and repair help as well. She added, just like the community is there for them, their organization has an open door when community members need help.