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Community supports Arab American family targeted by racist graffiti

(WTVG)
Published: Jan. 14, 2017 at 9:00 PM EST
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From hateful graffiti to unity; an Arab American family targeted because of their ethnicity got a lot of support today. The public joined members of the Toledo Symphony to spread a message of peace.

It was a last minute effort by a handful of people that snowballed in big turnout. Upwards of 200 people showed up.

And leading the way were some musicians from the Toledo Symphony who took it upon themselves to spread a message of peace through music.

They all stood in solidarity with the Eltatawy family at their Sylvania Township home.

Everyone sang together and each took turns writing positive messages on what was a garage door smeared with hate.

"I think this is what Toledo is. It's a compassionate community and we support each other and we are all Americans," said Sarah Jobin, a resident who organized this event.

"I couldn't sleep that night, couldn't live with the fact that you know somewhere 10 minutes away from me, there's a family that for no reason at all, someone came up to express their hate to them," stated Sherry Roush, a Toledo Resident.

On Tuesday, someone spray painted an anti-Arab message with a swastika.

Malak Ayache lives at the home and later painted over the racist words to create a "Toledo loves Arabs" message.

"Toledo's really diverse and it was kind of sad this even happened in the first place but we decided to turn something negative into positive and there it is," said Malak Ayache, pointing towards the garage door.

The outpouring of support by the community is something this family didn't expect to see.

"It's just an overwhelming warm feeling inside, that I don't know how to describe it. Words can't describe how amazing it is,” said Mustafa Eltatawy. "I'd just like to thank everybody for all the support they've given me and my family."

On Monday, Quality Overhead Doors will be replacing that garage door free of charge.

Right now the family is looking into preserving the door in remembrance of the hate and the love that prevailed.

Councilman Peter Uvjagi agrees.

"To turn this around into a message of love is something that is very important for all of us to understand," said Uvjagi. "I think it's an important message and it's a message that we need to both preserve and figure out some way to let more people see it and understand it."

Police are investigating the hateful graffiti as an act of ethnic intimidation. No word yet on any suspects.