Somali immigrants in Garden City are shaken and scared by an alleged plot to blow up an apartment complex where many of them live and worship. But an outpouring of support from the community is showing the immigrants that such hatred and violence are not the values of Garden City and Kansas.
The plot, as outlined by local and federal law enforcement, is horrific. Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright and Patrick Stein – none of whom live in Garden City – allegedly conspired to fill four vehicles with explosives and detonate them at the four corners of the Garden Spot apartments, where about 120 people, including about 50 children, live and which includes an apartment that the immigrants use as a mosque.
The men allegedly had been stockpiling weapons and materials and intended to carry out the attack on Nov. 9, the day after the general election. Federal investigators say the men planned the bombing for months, and also considered targeting churches and local officials who had helped the immigrants settle and find work in Garden City.
The men are part of a small militia group called the Crusaders, which acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beall described as part of “a hidden culture of hatred, violence.” Such twisted views are unfathomable to most Kansans.
“These people they targeted are great people,” state Rep. John Doll, R-Garden City, told The Eagle. “They work hard, pay taxes, obey the laws. Why would anyone want to hurt them?”
The immigrants also can’t understand it.
“Who are these people?” Abdulkadir Mohamed said. “Who are they fighting?”
Garden City Police Chief Michael Utz reassured the immigrants that they are valued members of the community and would be protected. “Whether you are an immigrant or not, you are all Garden Citians,” he told worried immigrants Saturday.
As with many communities that have seen influxes of immigrants, Garden City has experienced challenges and grumblings by some residents. But overall, it has been a model of acceptance and adaptation.
Sunday, a number of people from Garden City gathered in front of the apartment complex in a demonstration of support, the Garden City Telegram reported. Denise Pass, pastor of the Garden City Presbyterian Church, held a sign that said, “We love our Muslim neighbors.”
Such community outreach is a great comfort to the immigrants.
One of them, Ifrah Farah, joined the demonstration and held a sign that said, “Thank you law enforcement.”
Hamdi Saed, a 12-year-old resident of the apartment complex, appreciated how the people of Garden City make her feel welcome and equal.
“I’m really, really, really happy to live in Garden City,” she said, “because it really feels like home.”
That’s a true reflection of Kansas values.