A GoFundMe launched on Thursday to help the owner of beloved Senegalese restaurant and dance hall in the Mission fight charges of fraudulent citizenship.
Marco Senghor, a native of Senegal, was arrested two weeks ago for “illegally obtaining” United States citizenship, he announced on Facebook this week. He vowed to fight the charges but appealed to family, friends, and supporters to help.
On Thursday, a GoFundMe launched that raised more than $5,300 in just half a day. Though it anticipates the legal fees to hit $100,000, the goal is half of that.
“The future of the Bissap Baobab Village that we have built together is uncertain, but I am dedicated to preserving it,” Senghor wrote. “Please accept my enormous gratitude for joining me in this 20-year cultural and culinary adventure.”
The nearly 20-year-old West African restaurant has had strong community ties in San Francisco, on 19th and Mission streets, and in Oakland. Just last October, Senghor bought the San Francisco building that houses Bissap Baobab for $1.6 million so that the restaurant could stay there for good, Mission Local reported.
Even Boots Riley, who featured the Oakland joint in his directorial debut Sorry to Bother You, drew attention to the news.
This is terrible. The owner of the Senegalese restaurant from that they meet at at the end of the movie is being attacked by immigration authorities. He’s been a vibrant part of our community for at least 30 years. Probably more. https://t.co/cBfbM4gZOz
— Boots Riley (@BootsRiley) August 15, 2018
Senghor is likely a local face to the Trump administration’s denaturalization push. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced in June that it would sic a team of investigators to find people who obtained citizenship under false identities.
The owner’s attorney, Jeffrey Bornstein, said in a vague statement to Mercury News that his client “was taken and received bad advice from people along the way” and left it at that. If Senghor loses his case, he could face 10 years in prison.
UPDATE, 8/20: The GoFundMe surpassed $38,000 by Monday, prompting petition leaders to release another statement.
“Marco is so deeply moved by the incredible outpouring of support for this campaign! We are so close to meeting our initial goal but have a long way to go to reach our stretch goal of 100k.”