Vandals hit Brother's Touch again

Using a pellet or BB gun, vandals fired two holes into the window of A Brother's Touch Bookstore sometime after the shop closed on April 19. This marks the fourth time in eight months that the store, located at 2327 Hennepin Avenue, has been vandalized.

In August of last year, the bookstore's window was spray-painted with the words "fag," "KKK," and "187," the police code for homicide. The window was then broken on two later occasions by rocks and a brick. An arrest was made for only one of the incidents since only one of them had a witness. Thomas Hamilton pled guilty to throwing a brick through the bookstore's window last fall and was ordered to pay restitution.

Aaron Happel, manager of A Brother's Touch, says that the $600 to $700 it cost to replace the window broken April 20 is coming out of the store's pockets. The damages resulting from the previous incidents totaled $5,000, all of which the insurance company paid for. Happel is anxious about the ramifications of the vandalism on the store's insurance. "If we report this one," he says, "they'll raise our rates or just cancel on us because we're a risk."

When Harvey Hertz, owner of the store, initially called 911, he wanted to report the incident as a bias crime. Instead, the incident is officially listed as damage to property. Sgt. Thomas Stocke of the Minneapolis Police Department says, "We can't list it as anything but damage to property until we can prove otherwise." Law enforcement official can't classify the incident as a hate crime until an arrest is made and bias can be proven as motivation for the vandalism. He also says there are no witnesses or leads in this case, and no evidence that there is a connection between the four cases. "Without any of that information, we have nothing to go on," he says. The matter will not be assigned to an investigator.

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