On early Friday morning, a vandal committed $300 worth of damage to the outdoor courtyard of The Aut Bar, a gay bar in Ann Arbor, Michigan. After the bar closed at 2 a.m., the vandal tore down the bar’s rainbow flags and colorful streamers, smashed some of its lights and ripped some of the fascia board from its overhanging eaves.
The bar’s clean up crew discovered the damage at 6:45 a.m. Friday morning. Police haven’t identified a suspect nor have they labelled it a hate crime as of yet. The bar doesn’t have security cameras installed.
A $2,000 GoFundMe effort to restore the bar (launched by Democratic state representative Yousef Rabhi) has already raised $8,500 in 19 hours thanks to 253 donors. The bar’s co-owner Keith Orr says that all additional funds will go towards the LGBT community.
“The primary mission of The Aut Bar is to provide a safe space for the LGBT community,” Orr said. “When something like that happens it definitely feels like an attack not just on us but on a community.”
The local publication mlive.com states that this is the fourth incident targeting a marginalized group in Ann Arbor over the past few weeks:
“On August 10, Concordia University employees found racial slurs spray painted onto the running track. On August 18, vandals spray painted racial slurs and swastikas at the skate park at Veteran’s Park. There was a bomb threat Tuesday, August 22 at the Jewish Family Services of Washtenaw County.”
The bar itself has only has been marred with graffiti few times during its 22-year history. The infamously anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church also picketed the bar in 2001.
In response to their picketing, the bars owners launched a national fundraiser to donate a dollar to the local LGBT community center for every minute the Church protested. The campaign went viral and raised $7,500.