Customers pack Ann Arbor gay bar after vandals strike

An Ann Arbor bar that’s supposed to be a safe space for the LGBT community was vandalized Thursday night but customers and employees say it’s not that $300 in damage that was done that’s troublesome. They say they feel violated.

The flags are flying again and business is back to normal at Aut Bar in Ann Arbor. The gay bar/restaurant was vandalized early Friday morning. Keith Orr says someone tore the flags, lights, streams, and fascia board down from his bar sometime after it closed at 2 a.m.

Orr says Aut Bar is a safe space but this crime could change all that.

“The primary mission of the Aut bar is to provide a safe space for the LGBT community that's higher on the mission list than food or drink even,” Orr said. “When something like that happens it definitely feels like an attack not just on us but on a community. “

It's unclear who vandalized Aut bar, but there's little speculation amongst the owners and customers about what motivated the person or persons responsible.

“At certain times in our history for various reason people have felt like they can come out with that ugliness with impunity and I feel like Trump has done that to our country,” Orr said.

Aut isn’t the only business that’s been targeted. There have been other acts of vandalism and threats against ethnic minorities in Ann Arbor recently. Someone spray painted swastikas at a local skate park, police say teenagers spray painted racial slurs on the running track at Concordia University, and someone called in a bomb threat at the Jewish Family Services center of Washtenaw County.

“We've lived here for years these things have never happened before here,” Ann Arbor resident Ann Rodgers said.

Customers, like Ann and Pat Rodgers, turned out in droves Friday to support Aut Bar.

“I don't know why there's so much hate in the world but  I think if we took a moment to understand the people around us more we'd realize we have a lot more similarities than you might think,” Andrea McAuliffe said.

Ann Arbor State Rep. Yousef Rahbi started a GoFundMe campaign for Aut Bar which as of Friday evening raised more than $2,600. Orr plans to contribute the extra funds to the LGBT community.

“We'll be donating anything above and beyond the actual repairs to a couple of LGBT institutions right here on the courtyard,” Orr said.

Ann Arbor police is investigating this as a malicious destruction of property. No word if they they're calling it a hate crime.

Orr said Aut may install surveillance cameras in the future.