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Community rallies to aid of Somali cafe damaged in Grand Forks arson


The Grand Forks community is helping a Somali coffee shop get back on its feet after it was heavily damaged by fire Monday night, just days after being the target of racist graffiti.

The Juba Coffee House in South Washington Street sustained about $90,000 worth of damage in the overnight blaze, WDAZ reports.

It does come a few days after the cafe was targeted by vandals who appeared to have spray-painted an "SS" – the symbol of Hitler's paramilitary organization – above the words "go home."

Fire investigator have told The Fargo Forum that the fire was intentionally set, saying it was "incendiary and suspicious in nature."

Right now a link between the two incidents hasn't been established, but either way the fire is bringing out the very best in the local community, with both businesses and voluntary organizations pledging support.

A GoFundMe fundraising drive has been set up to support the coffee shop, which has so far raised almost $6,500 of its $9,000 target despite only being launched around lunchtime on Tuesday.

The page was set up by Colleen Berry, a former professor at the University of North Dakota.

The Fargo Forum reports that support has also been offered by Hope Church and North Dakotans for Diversity and Compassion, while the Global Friends Coalition is in the process of organizing a benefit event for the business.

Grand Forks Mayor Michael R. Brown also released a statement in support of the Juba owners to WDAZ, saying: "As a community, we come to the aid of our friends and neighbors who are hurting and we rally around them. It is part of who we are and we will do it again. In fact, already the community support is evident.

"My office has reached out to the owners and we know they are hurting. We have also reached out to organizations who provide a network of support."

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