CLEVELAND (FinalCall.com) – The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) office in Cleveland, Ohio has reported that at least 30 “racially hateful letters” were sent to “high-profile Blacks” who are involved in professional sports, civic organizations, the business community and community groups.
On December 4, the Associated Press (AP) quoted an FBI agent in Cleveland, Robert Hawk saying that letters “warning Blacks to avoid relationships with White women or be castrated, shot or set on fire” had been sent to six professional athletes and others who he would not name.
The AP said that the agent told them the majority of the letters had Cleveland postmarks, a few sent from Youngstown, Ohio; New Castle, Pennsylvania and Erie, Pennsylvania. The agent would only tell the wire service that the letters were sent to people in the East, West, Midwest and the Southeast.
The National Football League security office admitted to news sources that some of their players have received racially charged mail, and according to a December 5 story in the Palm Beach Post, at least one Major League Baseball player received a hate mail letter.
In Columbus, Ohio, police officials said the mother of suspended Ohio State football player Maurice Clarett received a racially charged death threat to her son which, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, said that “black men should stay away from white women.” The letter also said her home would be burned.
“People should not be surprised by this type of behavior in 2003,” Minister Richard Muhammad, head of Muhammad’s Mosque No. 18 told The Final Call. While hate mail was serious, he said, people should be paying attention to the hate mail coming from the White House to major cities that there is no money for them in Washington.
“The real hate mail comes from President George W. Bush in the form of a pink slip,” Min. Muhammad said, referring to the layoff of some 720 Cleveland city employees.
He added that the 400-year history of Blacks in America was rife with death threats and actual acts of violence against Black men because of White racism. He noted that Blacks and other minorities are always targeted when White workers face hardships.
According to a report entitled, “The State of Working Ohio in 2003” that was published by Policy Matters Ohio, a Cleveland-based research institute, the state ranks third in the nation in job loss.
According to the Council for Economic Opportunities in Greater Cleveland, Ohio lost 204,858 jobs in the last two years. In July, Cleveland’s unemployment stood at 6.3 percent, up from 5.7 percent at the same time in 2002, which was an increase from the 4.1 percent in 2000.
The layoffs of the 720 civil servants were slated for December 5, but the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that they were postponed until December 22. Community activists say that there is anger and frustration in the White community of Cleveland because the largest number of people laid off worked in the predominately White police and fire departments.
The city said it must layoff 260 policemen, 150 firefighters, 20 emergency medical service people, 60 from parks and 60 service employees to plug a $61 million budget deficit.
“The hate mail has raised some concerns in the activist community,” Khalid Samad, assistant safety director of Cleveland, told The Final Call. He and Min. Muhammad belong to the newly formed Task Force for Community Mobilization, a community based-coalition that formed after the disappearance of 11-year-old Shakira Johnson in September. An “Amber Alert” was not activated at the time of her disappearance; and she was found dead a month after her disappearance.
“There are some new voices emerging in Cleveland, so the fear tactics won’t work,” Mr. Samad stressed. He said he is not aware if any of the local activists have received the racially-laced letters.