Veterans for Peace decided to take a stand after a vandal threw a 20-pound rock through the window of the Iraqi family-owned Babylon Resturant in Lowell, Mass., staging a sit-in and speaking out against the presumed hate crime. Video footage of the eat-in can be seen below.
'To intimidate and scare these people... is unacceptable'
Last week, an unidentified New Hampshire man threw a large rock through the window of a Massachusetts eatery, known for being owned by a family of recent Iraqi immigrants.
The Lowell Sun reported that the wife of Ahmed Al-Zubaydi, the owner of the restaurant, was driven to tears, and [the vandalism] prompted her to question whether the family should close the restaurant.
In the face of an apparent hate crime, communities often react with anxiety, fear, or simply ignoring whatever's going on. Patrick Scanlon, a Vietnam veteran and coordinator for Veterans for Peace, had a different idea.
He started this little restaurant, and not only is he providing for his family -- and it's only been six months -- but he's providing jobs for other Iraqis.
To protest the vandalism, Scanlon staged an eat-in at Babylon Restaurant, joined by other members of Veterans for Peace.
For someone to come and throw a rock through this window, in what we consider a hate crime, is totally unacceptable, Scanlon said.
To try and intimidate and scare these people, who have been through so much, is not acceptable, either here in Lowell or anywhere else... we're just outraged.
'There is no more fear in my heart'
We're here for them, Scanlon said. We're here to support them. Scanlon was joined at the Iraqi eatery at 25 Merrimack Street by veterans of the Iraq War and a 96-year-old veteran named Paul Brailsford, who served as a captain in Pacific for the Merchant Marines.
The veterans held signs in front of the restaurant, waved flags, and took turns filling all the seats in the local eatery on Jan. 11.
Veterans for Peace had pledged to fill every seat in the 50-person restaurant. Instead, every participant filled a seat at least twice, and Leyla Al-Zubaydi, Ahmed's wife, said more than 100 people had eaten in the restaurant by 8:00 p.m.
This solidarity gives us the courage to stand, Ahmed Al-Zubaydi said. There is no more fear in my heart because there are such nice people behind us.
The unidentified vandal has since been caught and charged with a misdemeanor. He claims his actions were not a hate crime, despite the vandalism only occurring at the new Iraqi restaurant in town.
Below, watch footage from the eat-in to support Babylon Restaurant: