September 20, 2012

Looting and vandalism at American Cooperative School in Tunis

On the afternoon of Friday 14th September, the American Cooperative School of Tunis was attacked by a group of demonstrators that had earlier been protesting at the US Embassy close by. Following the initial attack, where four school vehicles and one building (housing classrooms for children aged 3 to 8 as well as the Elementary School Library) were set on fire, a second wave of attackers proceeded to loot the rest of the school. In excess of 100 looters stole computers, electronic equipment and furniture, as well as destroying doors, windows and larger pieces of equipment too large to carry off. No area of the school was left untouched.

Karen Lindsay, former librarian at the schools writes: "It is our colleague Gwen Martin, the elementary librarian, who needs our support. Once the looters had taken everything of value from the elementary wing - not just computers and projectors, but children's toys and musical instruments - they started a fire, using the library books as fuel. The fire spread to the whole primary wing and there is absolutely nothing left. It will be bulldozed and rebuilt as soon as humanly possible, but it will take years to rebuild that collection, and thinking about how the children will react to what happened to their classrooms and their library makes me weep.The secondary library is not in bad shape. All the computers were stolen and many books and magazines were tossed about, but the collection, its shelving and the space itself is unharmed. It is upsetting, but fixable. 
Elementary library, ACST
The good news is that no one was killed or hurt. There were no teachers or students on the premises when the 300-400 looters poured over the walls. The remaining security staff took no chances with their lives, thank heavens, and the only damage was to property.Of course, that's not true, really. The huge damage is to people's psyches..."

More info on the event can be read from Tunisialive

The school is accepting donations to ACST Recovery Fond

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