- Associated Press - Monday, March 30, 2015

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Sudanese refugees living in Anchorage were targets of weekend vandalism that left their cars covered in messages demanding that they leave their adopted home.

Mohammed Hano and Mobarak Albadawi woke up Sunday morning to find the tires on their cars deflated and messages scrawled on the vehicles, the Alaska Dispatch News, an Anchorage newspaper, (https://is.gd/fPcisT ) reported.

Vandals wrote messages such as “Not Welcome” and “Leave Alaska” on the vehicles outside the Dorbrandt Street apartment complex where they live.

The damage left the men feeling vulnerable far from their war-torn home country.

Hano, who moved to Alaska nearly five years ago, works at Providence Alaska Medical Center and is working toward becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen. Now he feels that he needs to move immediately.

Hano he said he also is disappointed at the dismissive response of police, who told him no officer would come out to investigate. The refugees consider the vandalism a hate crime.

Police spokeswoman Anita Shell said the vandalism doesn’t fit the definition of a hate crime, defined as “discrimination against a person’s race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity or disability,” she told the newspaper in an email.

“The victim’s perception may be that this crime is racially motivated, but we can’t prove that the intent of the vandalism was racially motivated,” Shell wrote. “The words themselves had nothing discriminatory about them.”

Police took a report on the incident, which was classified as vandalism, Shell said.

Debbie Bock, a University of Alaska Anchorage Spanish instructor, said the men targeted by vandalism are part of a community of about 50 refugees from the Darfur region who now live in Anchorage. Bock, a former social worker, has been close with many of the refugees.

She told a church congregation what happened Sunday, and people donated more than $600, which the men are considering using as a down payment on a different apartment, Bock said.

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