DALLAS -- The Pan-African Connection bookstore, art gallery, and resource center has made a lot of fans over its 29 years, and now it's using a lot of fans after someone deliberately damaged four rooftop air-conditioning units.
"Initially we thought maybe someone was trying to steal the copper or something, but that wasn't the case," says owner Akwete Tyehimba. "It had been intentionally disabled. Someone knew what to do."
Tyehimba says one unit was damaged a couple months ago, then the remaining three were broken last weekend. There are security cameras in front of the store but none in the back nor on the roof to capture the crime--something Tyehimba says will change along with adding security fencing around the units once they're replaced.
Replacing the four units with new models could cost as much as $20,000--and Tyehimba says that number does not include renting a crane to hoist them onto the roof. The landlord's insurance may or may not help, but in the meantime the community is doing its part to help with a GoFundMe page that had already raised a few thousand dollars in its first day.
"I'm not really good at asking for help, especially financially," says Tyehimba. "We normally are able to maintain things ourselves, but sometimes there are times when people know you need help, and this is one of those times."
Tyehimba says getting two units up and running would be enough to make the 8,000-square foot space comfortable, but it would save money to install all four at once to avoid paying for a crane to make multiple trips. Until any of that happens, Pan-African Connection will have to rely on extra fans to make the space tolerable.
"Our customers and our supporters are fabulous," says Tyehimba. "Even in the midst of all of this heat they have continued to come in and support and buy."