One couple has been accused of urinating on several copies of the Quran and on former President Bill Clinton’s autobiography at a library in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in early March.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations called for state and federal officials in New Mexico to investigate a possible bias motive for the vandalism, according to a statement released by the organization Wednesday.
Staff members at the Santa Fe Public Library told the Santa Fe Police Department last Friday that a man and woman had been causing trouble at their Southside branch during multiple visits in early March, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican. Leslie Simmons, the library manager, said that staff members found three copies of the Quran damaged “by a yellowish liquid substance” after one of the couple’s visits. Staffers also said that the books smelled of urine, according to the police report.
Surveillance footage shows the couple at the library using their computer and reading books, according to a police report obtained by local news station KOB 4. The video also shows the man picking up books, then bringing them back.
Police said the low-quality video did not show which books the man picked up, but it does show the man going to the same locations where library workers found damaged copies of the Quran and Bill Clinton’s autobiography, “My Life.”
Library staffers told police that the couple started visiting the library every few days since March 2 and that they were loud and disruptive, according to KOB 4. Library workers also claimed the couple placed copies of the Bible and books written by conservative commentator Ann Coulter around the library “as if they were placed on display for all to see,” according to a police report.
Police said that DNA testing would be inconclusive, since the damaged library books were likely handled by a lot of people, according to the New Mexican. Police concluded the investigation after they were unable to locate the license plate number for the couple’s truck in law enforcement databases.
The vandalism comes at a time when hate crimes targeting Muslims are becoming more frequent in the U.S. The number of anti-Muslim hate groups nearly tripled in 2016, according to a recent report published by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Meanwhile, mosques have become targets for vandalism and destruction.
On Tuesday, CAIR called on officials to investigate a similar incident in which an Arizona man broke into the Islamic Center of Tucson and tore apart several copies of the Quran.