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After Immigrants' Cars Are Vandalized, Community Holds Potluck To Celebrate Diversity

The vandal told the immigrants to "leave Alaska." Saturday's potluck was designed to send the opposite message.

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A week ago, someone vandalized several cars that belong to Sudanese immigrants living in Anchorage, Alaska.

Sudanese refugees living in #Anchorage have vehicles vandalized http://t.co/zoB8tCPS8f

Mohammed Abdallai told KTVA that someone wrote "Get out," "Go home," and "Leave Alaska" on the cars.

Abdallai and his roommates discovered the vandalism on March 29. The tires on their cars were also slashed.

Abdallai and several roommates came to Alaska in 2010 after leaving Sudan. Mohammed Hano, another roommate, told the Alaska Dispatch News that the men are refugees from violence in Darfur.

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"I left my country because of this war, and come over here to live in peace and be secure and protected," Hano told the Dispatch News.

Hano and Abdallai said they feared for their safety after the incident. They also said police wouldn't immediately investigate.

As news of the vandalism made its way through the community, a group calling themselves We Are Anchorage decided to organize an event to celebrate diversity and show that immigrants are welcome.

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The potluck happened Saturday at a mall in Anchorage and included food and performances.

During the event, Catholic Social Services Executive Director Lisa Aquino said that in the wake of the vandalism, "there's been a strong outpouring of support for refugees," the Dispatch News reported.

Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew also attended the event and said that a mistake led to the delay in investigating the vandalism, KTUU reported. Mew added that, "we don't know absolutely for sure that it's a hate crime at this point, although there are good indications that that's what's going on."

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We Are Anchorage member George Martinez talked to KTUU about being "shocked that in the 21st century in 2015, that sort of petty hate crime still goes on."

Awesome time at the Northway Mall today honoring Anchorage's diversity. You should have seen how wide her eyes were!

Martinez also said that knowing "folks are targeting the most vulnerable new arrivals to our community" is "despicable."

The We Are Anchorage website states that the organization "came together to start working on solutions" to the "violence that has become more and more apparent in our community."

On Saturday, Abdallai said that his car had been fixed after the Anchorage Unitarian Universalist Fellowship made donations.

"I'm grateful and thankful for opportunity in the community," Abdallai told KTUU.

Jim Dalrymple is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Jim Dalrymple II at jim.dalrymple@buzzfeed.com.

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