Montclair homes with Black Lives Matter signs targeted by anonymous letters
By JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
Montclair police are investigating anonymous mail sent to Montclair residents who have Black Lives Matter banners or signs displayed on their homes.
Envelopes containing anti-BLM letters were not addressed specifically to the residents at the Montclair addresses, and only contained the addresses in a handwritten cursive writing. The envelopes, which were sent through the U.S. Postal Service, were postmarked for New York City.
Montclair Police Captain James M. Lalor said the department has only received one report to date, but that the department is investigating and local police have notified the Essex County Prosecutor's Office.
At least two other residents have commented on a Secret Montclair Facebook group post about the letters, saying they too had received them. Two have also told Montclair Local directly they’ve received the letters.
“Although the letter does not contain any racist or hateful content, it has been assigned to our bias incident detective for further investigation. This investigation will be given 100% effort,” Lalor said.
A copy of the letter provided to Montclair Local by one individual who received it blames a recent “increase in violent crimes” on BLM, saying his or her friends have been victims of the group and of related movements around defunding police and criminal justice reform.
“After a year of unbelievable violence across America, I’m still disjointed each time I walk through Montclair and see a BLM sign or angy fist adorning the lawns of a million (or more!) dollar house,” the author writes in the letter. The writer blames BLM for discord in New York City, referencing storefronts that were “trashed and looted.” The writer further references what he or she calls “phony activism,” saying people who display BLM signs should instead dedicate themselves weekly to causes they believe in.
In the case that was reported to police, an article from Frontpage Magazine headline “Black Lives Matter Killed 2,000 Black People,” dated Sept. 30, 2021, was also included. Despite the article’s headline, it never cites instances of BLM or its supporters committing violent crimes. Instead, it blames increased violence statistics on “coddling criminals and defunding police” with policies backed by social justice activists, without ever demonstrating that people treated differently by any such policies were responsible.
Frontpage is published by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, which the magazine’s site describes as combatting the “efforts of the radical left and its Islamist allies to destroy American values and disarm this country as it attempts to defend itself in a time of terror.”
Montclairians David Shiffman and his fiance Barbarann Petrichor told Montclair Local they had received the letter.
Shiffman said that when his family first put up a banner outside their home a year ago, he thought that it could trigger some opposition, but that thought quickly receded, as he knew Montclair is “such a progressive and diverse town.”
He called the letter “insulting.”
“This person is making assumptions about us. They don’t know what we do in our spare time to back our beliefs and help others. And they are making assumptions about Montclair, that we all have a lot of money and don’t do anything beyond hanging up banners,” Shiffman said.
Shiffman said he was a little “weirded out” by the letter.
“They seem to have targeted residents who have signs or banners up. Did they come to Montclair to see how many of us have signs up or did they just visit and happen to notice how many signs are up? We don’t know. It is kind of scary,” Shiffman said.
Two other recipients of the letters have not yet responded to Montclair Local's request for comment.
Lalor did not say whether other towns have reported their residents receiving similar letters and could not comment further, due to it being an active investigation.
Anyone with information or who receives a similar letter can report it to Montclair Police at 973-744-1234.