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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Islamic Center harmed by drunk, not hate

Courtesy+of+Alex+CouturierStudents+have+been+throwing+bottles+from+the+high-rise+apartment+building+Level+on+all+four+sides%2C+including+the+one+with+the+Islamic+Center+of+Tucson+below.+Tucson+Police+Department+does+not+believe+these+incidents+are+hate+crimes.

Courtesy of Alex Couturier

Students have been throwing bottles from the high-rise apartment building Level on all four sides, including the one with the Islamic Center of Tucson below. Tucson Police Department does not believe these incidents are hate crimes.

In the past month, the Tempe Police Department has answered at least six reports of residents tossing bottles, eggs, cans and other objects off the balconies of high-rise housing complexes near Arizona State University — a situation mirroring the recent spat of UA students dropping beer bottles off their balconies at a new high-rise housing complex onto the street and the Islamic Center of Tucson next door.

Since the fall semester started in August, there have been a number of reports of residents at Tucson’s Level — a new high-rise student housing complex across the street from the UA — throwing bottles from their balconies. The glass explodes onto the street or, in several cases, onto the Islamic Center of Tucson.

“The students don’t comprehend how bad what they are doing actually is and the damage they could cause,” said Ezadeen Naji, an employee with the Islamic Center of Tucson. “It’s actually really stupid. They could get evicted or even arrested. It is just a small number of students who make the rest look bad.”

Because the center is a place of religious worship, the idea of a hate crime comes up. Naji does not believe that the center was targeted, though. Students have had bottles thrown at them from the apartments while they were simply walking by.

“Maybe we have been targeted, maybe not,” Naji said. “I think it is just students being drunk.”

Chris Widmer with the Tucson Police Department also said that these incidents do not appear to be hate crimes.

“We don’t have any evidence of a hate crime. There are four sides to the building, and one happens to be the Islamic Center,” he said.

Northern Arizona University students apparently haven’t caught on to the practice of heaving bottles off balconies, largely because there are few, if any, high-rise student housing complexes, said Flagstaff Police Sgt. Margaret Bentzen.

“Also, it is just too cold here,” Bentzen said. “Students aren’t hanging out on balconies outside for them to be throwing bottles off of them.”

Naji said a way to possibly solve the problem is to install a fence or a net to catch bottles and other debris falling off of balconies.

The Islamic Center of Tucson has installed security cameras and after every incident it turns over the footage to the management at Level and the adjacent Hub and Next housing complexes. Several students in November were evicted based on the video evidence.

Taylor Thorne, a UA junior who lives in Level, said it is incredibly disrespectful and immature of students to throw anything off their balconies.

“I think it is really dangerous that college kids are actually doing this, and these bottles are landing on a place of worship,” she said. “It’s really unfortunate that they are willingly putting other people at risk. I think the Level apartment management should have done something about it more promptly because it seems to be an ongoing issue for a couple of weeks now.”

Management has also distributed notes to the Hub, Next and Level warning residents of potential punishment for throwing items off balconies. According to the lease agreement, offenders face an immediate $1,000 fine and possible eviction, as well as the potential to be charged with a crime by TPD.

Widmer said TPD does not have officers assigned to patrol the area around the three housing complexes; he said the complexes have their own security staff and TPD will respond when called upon.

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Leah Cresswell is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News Service. This article originally came from the Arizona Sonora News Service website.

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