As protests continue to rage over the death of George Floyd, residents of Minneapolis, St. Paul, and a nearby suburb are receiving threats over the Black Lives Matter signs on their properties and over their support of anti-racist causes.
Julie Reuvers, a single mother of two in Roseville, between Minneapolis and St. Paul, woke up Saturday morning to find a handwritten note tucked inside her door.
“In light of Rioters with Blm signs I would be in The best intrest [sic] of your safty [sic] to Remove your sign Because Pay Back is Coming,” read the ominous message, written in black marker on a sheet of white computer paper.
Reuvers, 47, called the Roseville Police Department, which has since fielded reports of nearly identical missives and is investigating, the department tweeted Monday. Because she feared for her children’s safety, Reuvers decided with a heavy heart to take down her homemade Black Lives Matter sign, which had been propped inside her front window.
She alerted neighbors to the unsettling discovery on the Nextdoor platform, and on Sunday morning, another resident reported receiving a similar letter with matching handwriting: “Your neighbors are sick of riots and your SJW Shit. Your sign ‘Bullshit Matters’ comes down or you and your Home will Burn real Quiet while you sleep in it!”
According to Reuvers, this homeowner seemed to be targeted over a Social Justice Warrior poster on his property. “We don’t know who’s leaving notes, but find comfort in continuing to teach our children our values,” Reuvers said in a tweet about the second threat. A third neighbor on Nextdoor reported finding a note on her windshield, Reuvers said.
On Monday, a fourth neighbor named Ashley Weller shared a note someone left on her front door, discovered by one of her sons who’d just arrived home from a sleepover, this one in red ink: “Your neighbors have grown sick of your fucking riots and Bullshit matters signs Remove move them or we Torch your Home and cars real Quiet with lighter fluid while you sleep! We have Had Enough!”
In an interview with The Daily Beast, Ashley said her son found the first letter inside the door at 8:30 a.m. on Monday. Weller and her wife, Cat, did a sweep of their property, looking outside her house for any signs of vandalism or possible arson, Ashley said. She later spotted a second note on her car—which wasn’t there earlier in the morning—while she cleaned up her yard.
The couple, who have four adopted children of color, described the threats in a series of Facebook posts. “Our first death threat. Our kids can’t remove their blackness, so we can’t remove our signs,” Ashley Weller wrote Monday. She said they reported the notes to police and added, “We would love your fire extinguishers if you don't need them right now.”
The second note, on the vehicle behind the Wellers’ home, declared, “Yeah we were here too. Take your SJW Bullshit signs down or we burn you in your sleep! You mother fuckers want a war you will get one.”
(Several commenters on a Facebook post pointed out the alleged similarities in handwriting between the threats and photos of handwritten signs and notes posted online by Cat Weller. Ashley said that allegation was a “blatantly false accusation” that is “absolutely disheartening and ridiculous.”)
Reuvers told The Daily Beast that she’d never met Weller until Monday, when she returned home from an errand and spotted a woman in her front yard speaking with police. Reuvers got the impression that authorities planned to check Weller’s letter for fingerprints.
“Ours appeared to be distinctly different, not in handwriting, but that the threats were more intense,” Ashley Weller said. She added that the note-writers “do appear to be the same person” because of the “handwriting and grammar mistakes.”
Since discovering the threats, friends started a GoFundMe and raised $1,600, which the Wellers used to purchase and install security cameras on their home. On Monday evening, the Wellers were boarding up windows at the home. The Wellers also phoned the FBI, which arrived at their home to take statements.
Cat Weller, in a Facebook post, vowed not to be deterred: “I will not take down my flag or signs. But I will fill up my kids pool, collect flood lights, cameras, and patrol my house.”
“Talking with the 2 other neighbors who received threats with similar language,” Cat Weller wrote Monday afternoon, in a post that suggested she wouldn’t hide from the author of the warnings. “Come over anytime you want. We have chairs posted all around the yard. Feel free to come help us post watch. Help us remove wood and bricks from around the house if you have a truck. Ice for a cooler is helpful. Water is appreciated. We have ZERO fire extinguishers at this point. Hope to find some.”
“WHAT AM I MISSING?” she concluded.
So far, neighbors have collected at least five of the paper threats. On Sunday night, a woman who lives in far south Minneapolis shared a handwritten note that was left on her boyfriend’s car, which bears a bumper sticker reading, “Make racists afraid again.”
“You are being watched and recorded,” the note, whose writing appears different from those found in Roseville and St. Paul, read. “Highly advise that you stay where you are.”
Identical notes were found on the cars of two roommates.
The notes come at a time of heightened fear and paranoia about outsiders flocking to the Twin Cities to wreak havoc in communities protesting police brutality. The threatening notes have only added to that heated atmosphere, which is contributing to a dizzying rumor mill on social media about sightings of white supremacists.
“I wanted to share this broadly so people can see what’s happening,” Reuvers said. “I have no desire to be in the limelight. I just want people to be aware and be safe.” She said the focus should be on justice for George Floyd and “restoring our communities, but some people are causing havoc in other ways.”
Reuvers said she also contacted the FBI over her threat. Kevin Smith, a spokesman for the agency’s Minneapolis office, could not confirm the complaints from Reuvers and the Wellers, but said, “I can tell you that our office has multiple teams of agents fanning out across the Twin Cities tracking down leads and following up on information we are receiving from the public about violent activities during this period of time.”
Smith added, “We continue to urge people to send us photos and videos at fbi.gov/violence as well as to call in tips at 1-800-CALLFBI.”
Roseville Police Lt. Erika Scheider told The Daily Beast that over the weekend, her department took three different reports from as many households who received the notes. Detectives are working on getting fingerprints from the threats and could also send them to the state crime lab. (The Wellers’ complaint was filed with St. Paul police.)
Scheider said cops don’t have a suspect at this time. “We’re asking people to help by looking at their doorbell and surveillance systems to see if they captured a vehicle in the neighborhood so we can follow up,” she said.
Roseville police also boosted their nighttime patrols and are canvassing the community to see if anyone’s security cameras captured anything suspicious. “We want people to call 911 to report things,” including “suspicious vehicles,” Scheider said.
Marc Olson, who lives in the St. Paul neighborhood of Como, just next to the city of Roseville, said there is “a general sense of unease” among neighbors regarding the hate mail. Neighbors of Olson’s—a couple who has received a threatening note but declined to comment out of fear of repercussions—told Olson they were “doubling down” on Black Lives Matter signs, Olson said, “Because fuck them.”