Family receives letter calling for removal of BLM sign


She posted about the letter on social media, where someone sent her a link a story about a family in Oregon that received a letter with the same wording

WEBSTER GROVES, Mo. — For Courtney Schaefer’s family, the decision to put a “Black Lives Matter” sign in front of their Webster Groves home was about being neighborly.

“I happen to work in Jennings,” Schaefer said. “Michael Brown went to my school and actually had lunch with one of the teachers I worked with, so it’s very close to what I do and how I feel. It was natural.”

They put their first sign up about three years ago.

“It was stolen, so that’s when we moved it from the front of the yard closer to the house,” Schaefer said.

She said multiple homes were hit by sign snatchers, but she and many of her neighbors were quick to replace them.

Late last month, she received a letter in the mail addressed to “Resident” with her address upside-down on the envelope.

“We, your neighbors, appreciate that you have strong political and social viewpoints and wish to communicate to others via your yard sign,” Schaefer read.

The two-sided letter went on to explain that homes are not “made to be billboards for your opinions” and telling her family to “save your political viewpoint for insider your home.”

“Thank you in advance for caring enough about the people you live side-by-side, especially with different viewpoints, to remove your sign,” Schaefer read. ” Signed, your neighbors.”

Schaefer said for “the briefest second” she wondered if one of her neighbors had sent the letter, but that quickly went away after she realized none of the other people in her neighborhood had received letters for their signs.

She posted about the letter on social media, where someone sent her a link a story about a family in Oregon that received a letter with the same wording.

RELATED: Lake Oswego family gets anonymous letter demanding removal of Black Lives Matter sign

“It’s a campaign of hate,” Schaefer said. “They are trying to instill uncertainty which leads to fear. I think what that letter says is that Black people wouldn’t be welcome here, and I don’t think that’s true.”

According to Census data, more than 90% of Webster Groves’ population is white while Black residents make up less than 6% of the population.

Schaefer said she knows her community is predominately white and while the letter does not reflect her community, she said it’s a wakeup call.

“There are folks here who feel very strongly about Black Lives Matter, but we still have issues,” Schaefer said. We still have a long way to go.”

One of the claims in the anonymous letter is that the signs hurt property value and drive down interest in homes in the neighborhood.

Susan Schiff, who’s been selling homes in Webster Groves for 35 years, said she has not seen any trends that support that claim.

“The reality is prices are up,” Schiff said. “The number of sales are up year-to-date from last year to this year. If anything, I’m seeing a bump.”

Schiff said buyers factor in a number of things when searching from a home, with comfort and kind neighbors high on the list.

“Racism, there’s no room for that,” Schiff said. “No place for that. I think whoever wrote this letter is sadly misinformed.”

As news of the anonymous letter spread, another issue popped up in Webster Groves. Local churches like Peace United Church of Christ and First Congregational Church of Webster Groves started receiving backlash, and were even defaced with graffiti, after holding events to honor the lives of people of color who were killed unjustly.

In response to those incidents and the letter, the city’s mayor and city council released a letter denouncing racism and laying out the partnerships and strides the city has made since the beginning of the summer.

In additions to efforts already made, the city is planning to conduct an equity audit of city government and continue work with policing.

Webster Groves City Council Member Laura Arnold lives in Schaefer’s neighborhood and said she is both surprised and not surprised about the letter.

“I want to say we were very surprised, on the one hand, because we often don’t think that is who we are as a community,” Arnold said. “But on the other hand, we are like every other community in the country right now that is trying to deal with issues of racial equity and become more inclusive.”

Arnold said being a predominately white community does not excuse racism and that, if tangible changes are made, Webster Groves could be an example of how to properly address it.

“If we’re serious about this and we’re persistent about finding ways to have those conversations, we could be an example to others,” Arnold said.

As for the person who sent the letter to Schaefer, Arnold said she has one question.

“I would ask what they’re afraid of,” Arnold said. “Diverse communities are strong communities, so I would want to know what fear drives them to do this anonymously, as well.”

Donald Trump accused of calling America’s dead World War One heroes ‘losers’ and ‘suckers’

The president is also accused of opposing the presence of military veterans on military parades as “nobody wants to see that”. Mr Trump, unlike many of his predecessors, never served in the US military.

He received a medical deferment from the Vietnam War draft after bone spurs were reported in his feet.

US magazine the Atlantic alleges that Mr Trump decided not to make a planned visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in France in 2018 in part because he was worried “his hair would become dishevelled in the rain”.

At the time the president’s team claimed the rain made it impossible for his helicopter to fly, whilst the secret service didn’t want him driving to the site.

However, according to the magazine both these claims were inaccurate.

Over 2,000 Americans killed during World War One are buried at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, a 42-acre site.

Many died during the May 1918 Battle of Chateau-Thierry, one of the first US engagements of the war.

The Atlantic, based on several sources, claims Mr Trump said: “Why should I go to that ceremony? It’s filled with losers.”

The president also reportedly called American troops killed at the Battle of Chateau-Thierry as “suckers” for not managing to survive.

READ MORE: US election 2020 – What shifting odds tells us about Biden’s chances

Mr Trump commented: “He’s not a war hero.

“I like people who weren’t captured.”

Mr Trump also reportedly called Republican President George HW Bush a “loser” because he was shot down during WWII by the Japanese.

Whilst Mr Bush escaped capture eight of his comrades were caught and executed by Japanese soldiers.

The White House has strongly denied the accusations against President Trump.

In a statement it said: “This report is false.

“President Trump holds the military in the highest regard.

“He’s demonstrated his commitment to them at every turn: delivering on his promise to give our troops a much needed pay raise, increasing military spending, signing critical veterans reforms, and supporting military spouses.

“This has no basis in fact.”

On November 3 Mr Trump will be challenged by Democrat Joe Biden for the US presidency.



Donald Trump accused of calling America’s dead World War One heroes ‘losers’ and ‘suckers’

The president is also accused of opposing the presence of military veterans on military parades as “nobody wants to see that”. Mr Trump, unlike many of his predecessors, never served in the US military.

He received a medical deferment from the Vietnam War draft after bone spurs were reported in his feet.

US magazine the Atlantic alleges that Mr Trump decided not to make a planned visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in France in 2018 in part because he was worried “his hair would become dishevelled in the rain”.

At the time the president’s team claimed the rain made it impossible for his helicopter to fly, whilst the secret service didn’t want him driving to the site.

However, according to the magazine both these claims were inaccurate.

Over 2,000 Americans killed during World War One are buried at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, a 42-acre site.

Many died during the May 1918 Battle of Chateau-Thierry, one of the first US engagements of the war.

The Atlantic, based on several sources, claims Mr Trump said: “Why should I go to that ceremony? It’s filled with losers.”

The president also reportedly called American troops killed at the Battle of Chateau-Thierry as “suckers” for not managing to survive.

READ MORE: US election 2020 – What shifting odds tells us about Biden’s chances

Mr Trump commented: “He’s not a war hero.

“I like people who weren’t captured.”

Mr Trump also reportedly called Republican President George HW Bush a “loser” because he was shot down during WWII by the Japanese.

Whilst Mr Bush escaped capture eight of his comrades were caught and executed by Japanese soldiers.

The White House has strongly denied the accusations against President Trump.

In a statement it said: “This report is false.

“President Trump holds the military in the highest regard.

“He’s demonstrated his commitment to them at every turn: delivering on his promise to give our troops a much needed pay raise, increasing military spending, signing critical veterans reforms, and supporting military spouses.

“This has no basis in fact.”

On November 3 Mr Trump will be challenged by Democrat Joe Biden for the US presidency.



Petition calling for reinstatement of peanut festival activities







Little Miss National Peanut Festival pageant 2019




Over 5,000 people want to see the decision to cancel the 2020 National Peanut Festival’s many events overturned, according to Change.org petition.

The petition was posted after a joint decision by the National Peanut Festival board, city of Dothan and Houston County commissioners, and Reithoffer Shows was made public on Thursday to cancel the annual fair and all associated activities.

At 2:15 p.m. Tuesday, the petition had over 5,000 signatures, reaching its goal. The petition organizer set a new goal of 7,500 signatures shortly prior.

Many who are signing the petition are advocating for the entire festival to be reinstated, including the midway rides, food vendors, the agriculture exhibits and shows, the parade, and pageant.

However, most people are chiefly concerned with the auxiliary components of the fair – the pageant, livestock competitions, and carnival food sales.

Stephen Evans, the organizer of the petition and a local financial advisor, said the effects of the fair’s cancellation will be devastating to a number of groups.

“I want it to be reinstated because I think it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “There’s no re-doing what they’re stopping.”

Trump sparks outrage by calling coronavirus ‘China virus’ AGAIN in 'patriotic' tweet

Mr Trump started wearing a face mask only recently after months of refusing to do so despite US Centers for Disease Control recommending the contrary.

Mr Trump’s recent U-turn on mask-wearing is being seen by some observers as an attempt to rebuild public opinion as polls show Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden has a clear lead in several key areas in the run-up to the US presidential election this November.

In a tweet, the President posted a black-and-white photograph of himself wearing a black face covering.

He also wrote: “We are United in our effort to defeat the Invisible China Virus, and many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can’t socially distance.

“There is nobody more patriotic then me, your favourite President!”

Observers noted Mr Trump appeared to only indirectly state that wearing a mask is patriotic, while others have pointed out his use of the term “China Virus”.

READ: Coronavirus infected couple tagged and put under house arrest REFUSING to quarantine

Mr Trump has previously dismissed accusations that the term ‘Chinese virus’ or similar is a racist statement.

He claimed in March the term is “not racist at all. It comes from China; I want to be accurate.”

In terms of handling the coronavirus outbreak, a recent poll conducted by the Washington Post and ABC News suggests Mr Biden holds a significant lead over Mr Trump.

54 percent of those polled said they trusted Mr Biden to handle the pandemic, while 34 percent said they would trust Mr Trump – translating to a 20-point lead.

Allies of Mr Trump have previously voiced concerns the president’s stance on mask-wearing could contribute to an election loss.

Tennessee senator Lamar Alexander said in a Senate hearing some weeks ago: “The stakes are too high for this political debate and pro-Trump anti-Trump mask to continue.”

The US is facing a surge in coronavirus cases across the country with cases on the rise in 40 out of 50 states.

The most recent CDC data shows the US has recorded 63,201 new cases of COVID-19 with a total of 3,761,362. The data also shows 498 new deaths, with a total of 140,157.



Trump sparks outrage by calling coronavirus ‘China virus’ AGAIN in 'patriotic' tweet

Mr Trump started wearing a face mask only recently after months of refusing to do so despite US Centers for Disease Control recommending the contrary.

Mr Trump’s recent U-turn on mask-wearing is being seen by some observers as an attempt to rebuild public opinion as polls show Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden has a clear lead in several key areas in the run-up to the US presidential election this November.

In a tweet, the President posted a black-and-white photograph of himself wearing a black face covering.

He also wrote: “We are United in our effort to defeat the Invisible China Virus, and many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can’t socially distance.

“There is nobody more patriotic then me, your favourite President!”

Observers noted Mr Trump appeared to only indirectly state that wearing a mask is patriotic, while others have pointed out his use of the term “China Virus”.

READ: Coronavirus infected couple tagged and put under house arrest REFUSING to quarantine

Mr Trump has previously dismissed accusations that the term ‘Chinese virus’ or similar is a racist statement.

He claimed in March the term is “not racist at all. It comes from China; I want to be accurate.”

In terms of handling the coronavirus outbreak, a recent poll conducted by the Washington Post and ABC News suggests Mr Biden holds a significant lead over Mr Trump.

54 percent of those polled said they trusted Mr Biden to handle the pandemic, while 34 percent said they would trust Mr Trump – translating to a 20-point lead.

Allies of Mr Trump have previously voiced concerns the president’s stance on mask-wearing could contribute to an election loss.

Tennessee senator Lamar Alexander said in a Senate hearing some weeks ago: “The stakes are too high for this political debate and pro-Trump anti-Trump mask to continue.”

The US is facing a surge in coronavirus cases across the country with cases on the rise in 40 out of 50 states.

The most recent CDC data shows the US has recorded 63,201 new cases of COVID-19 with a total of 3,761,362. The data also shows 498 new deaths, with a total of 140,157.



People are calling for museums to be abolished. Can whitewashed American history be rewritten?

Written by Brian Boucher, CNN

After years of resisting calls for its removal, New York’s American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) has asked the city to dislodge from its front steps an equestrian monument to Theodore Roosevelt, the twenty-sixth US president, which depicts him charging forward, and towering over two mostly nude figures, one Black and one Indigenous.

In a statement dated June 2020 sent to museum staff, posted on the museum’s website, Ellen Futter, president of the institution’s board, said, “As we strive to advance our institution’s, our City’s, and our country’s passionate quest for racial justice, we believe that removing the statue will be a symbol of progress and of our commitment to build and sustain an inclusive and equitable Museum community and broader society.” (After the announcement President Donald Trump tweeted, “Ridiculous, don’t do it!”)

Might this concession be a harbinger of other changes ahead for American museums? How can institutions whose leadership is often overwhelmingly White rethink their staffing, collections and exhibitions, much less move toward more truly equitable governance? Or, some ask, should museums continue to exist in anything like their current form?
The controversial statue of former President Theodore Roosevelt outside of the Museum of Natural History, featuring a Black man and a Indigenous man at his sides

The controversial statue of former President Theodore Roosevelt outside of the Museum of Natural History, featuring a Black man and a Indigenous man at his sides Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images North America/Getty Images

The Natural History Museum’s statement places the monument’s removal in the context of “the ever-widening movement for racial justice that has emerged after the killing of George Floyd,” a Black man who was killed by four police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota, one of whom knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. After a video of Floyd’s killing went viral, tens of thousands took to the streets in protest in the US and around the world, even in the midst of a pandemic, to demand accountability for police brutality and to call for the defunding, or even the abolition of local police forces, among other demands.

The presence of an Indigenous figure in the Roosevelt monument, and the museum itself, have a very personal meaning for Wendy Red Star, an artist and member of the Crow tribe. She created a project, “The 1880 Crow Peace Delegation,” about a group of Crow chiefs who traveled to Washington, DC, that year to try to negotiate a peace treaty. In researching for the project, she found that the remains of one of those chiefs, Pretty Eagle, had been stolen from a burial site and later sold to the AMNH. The tribe was able to repatriate the remains in the 1990s.

“It wasn’t until I did this project that I learned about that,” Red Star said in a phone interview. “The Roosevelt monument was the first thing I thought of. To me, it’s a really direct connection to how my people have been presented at the museum — along with the dinosaur bones as part of the natural world. It’s always been such a surreal experience to see my community’s objects on display and watch people observing them as if these were peoples of the past.”

Just as government, law enforcement, and all forms of authority are being questioned in this moment of upheaval, museums worldwide have come in for intense scrutiny, and the situation on the ground is changing very fast. Earlier this month, dozens of current and former staffers of multiple cultural institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art as well as institutions nationwide, published an open letter accusing the institutions of unfair treatment of employees of color and saying that “your covert and overt white supremacy that has benefited the institution, through the unrecognized dedication and hard labor of Black/Brown employees, with the expectation that we remain complacent with the status quo, is over.”
Apsáalooke Feminist #4, 2016, by Wendy Red Star

Apsáalooke Feminist #4, 2016, by Wendy Red Star Credit: Courtesy Wendy Red Star

Within days, staffers at the Guggenheim and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art openly accused the institutions’ leadership of racism. In an emailed statement to CNN, Richard Armstrong, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, said the institution was prepared to address these concerns:

“As a society, we are confronting sustained injustices never resolved, and feel today the pain and anger of previous moments of turmoil. The Guggenheim addresses the shared need of great reform, and long overdue equality, and want to reaffirm that we are dedicated to doing our part.

“In this period of self-reflection and reckoning, we will engage in dialogue with our staff and review all processes and procedures to lead to positive change,” he continued. “We are expediting our ongoing … efforts to produce an action plan for demonstrable progress.”

The Metropolitan Museum declined to comment. The Museum of Modern Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art did not respond to requests for comment.

Museums have also been critiqued for issuing anodyne statements that failed to mention Floyd or the Black Lives Matter movement. The Getty Museum, in Los Angeles, posted an unspecific call for “equity and fairness” on Instagram, and later apologized; the director of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art privately apologized to Black artist Glenn Ligon for using a work of his from the museum’s holdings on social media without his permission, according to the New York Times.
Decolonize This Place protesting outside the American Museum of Natural History

Decolonize This Place protesting outside the American Museum of Natural History Credit: Andres Rodriguez/Decolonize This Place

The AMNH’s statement does not mention the groups that have for several years organized protests calling for the Roosevelt monument’s removal. In a phone interview, Decolonize This Place (DTP) organizer Amin Husain pointed out that removal of the monument was just one of three demands that Decolonize had placed on the museum, which include internally renaming Columbus Day as Indigenous People’s Day and rethinking the museum’s displays.

“Many of the museum’s galleries contain Indigenous remains and objects,” he said. “Those things need to be sent back to the people they were taken from, and the exhibitions must be completely overhauled in consultation with, and with the active participation of, the relevant stakeholders.”

While many U.S. museums have made moves toward what the field calls “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” fellow DTP organizer Marz Saffore called for much greater change. “It’s critical that we move past identity politics,” she said. “It’s not enough to hire an Indigenous curator. It’s not enough to have one Black person on your board. Museums as we know them have to be abolished. I don’t want my voice to be added to museums that are often trophy cases for Imperialism.”

Institutions like the AMNH will continue to be sites for debate, some of which may echo heated arguments among historians and activists on how to handle monuments to objectionable historical figures. This includes leaders of the Confederate Army in the US Civilw War, which were erected by Confederate sympathizers oftentimes decades after the war, with a conscious white supremacist purpose.

Some ask whether these monuments could, rather than being destroyed or removed, be altered by, for example, adding contextualizing information. In an interview with National Public Radio on Tuesday about the Roosevelt monument, historian Manisha Sinha suggested that this tribute to Roosevelt’s efforts toward nature conservation could still stand, if the subjugated Black and Indigenous figures were simply removed. (DTP pointed out in an emailed statement that the land Roosevelt “conserved” was stolen from Indigenous people, so they would hardly find that an acceptable solution.)

By contrast, Abraham Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer, former public affairs czar for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and author of books including “Lincoln and the Power of the Press: The War for Public Opinion” (2014), wrote an editorial this month for the New York Daily News saying that while he had earlier asked whether Confederate monuments could be altered, he’d concluded that they must be removed. “I was not only wrong,” he wrote; “I was insensitive.”

Michael Diaz-Griffith, executive director of the Sir John Soane's Museum Foundation, has written a pamphlet on how to be an anti-racist preservationist

Michael Diaz-Griffith, executive director of the Sir John Soane’s Museum Foundation, has written a pamphlet on how to be an anti-racist preservationist Credit: Michael Diaz Griffith

Michael Diaz-Griffith, executive director of the New York-based Sir John Soane’s Museum Foundation, which supports the Soane Museum in London, is author of “The Anti-Racist Preservationist’s Guide to Confederate Monuments: Their Past and a Future Without Them,” a pamphlet that succinctly explains how such monuments have a foundation in white supremacy, and outlines why they should be struck from the public realm. “In the case of the Confederates there’s no public legacy to detach from their wrongdoing,” Diaz-Griffith said over the phone.”The Confederacy was an immoral enterprise.”

Diaz-Griffith envisions a future, sooner or later, free of tributes to any such contentious figures.

“I think that all named buildings, all named places, will end up being reevaluated,” he said. “Who should they be named after? Do we continue to focus on those who were recognized in their own times, or do we shift our attention to those who fought for justice but weren’t publicly honored when they were alive? Since all people are fallible, it may be a good idea to erect monuments to principles, like justice, rather than to individuals.”

US museums, dependent as they are on the largesse of wealthy individuals and families, are far from a future in which controversial donors, who, for instance, hold views that run counter to science, nonetheless have galleries or other features named for them. The AMNH itself was under scrutiny for taking money from Rebekah Mercer, a major donor to the Republican party, whose leader Donald Trump has repeatedly denied the existence of climate change during his time in office. Mercer left the board when her term ended in 2019. Meanwhile in 2014, the Metropolitan Museum of Art named the revamped plaza on Fifth Avenue for donor David H. Koch, likewise a Republican donor, who is notable for funding efforts to undercut climate change science.

But the activists who had called for the removal of the Roosevelt monument have more foundational questions in mind than who funds such cultural organizations. Representing the group NYC Stands with Standing Rock, Sandy Grande, using the Lenape people’s name for Manhattan, said in a phone interview, “We should underscore that the city (Mannahatta) wouldn’t exist without the land and labor of Black and Indigenous peoples. This is Lenape land and the Mohawk and Seneca peoples built much of the city. In addition to Black people’s labor, their settlement at Seneca Village was destroyed.”

“So,” she said, “the removal of the monument has been a long time coming, not just for the museum but for the city itself, and we will continue to press for change.”

Makeba Clay, the Phillips Collection's first chief diversity officer

Makeba Clay, the Phillips Collection’s first chief diversity officer Credit: Rhiannon Newman/Courtesy Makeba Clay

“This is an historic moment — a pause and reflect moment for individuals and institutions,” said Makeba Clay, the chief diversity officer at the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC, over email. “The systemic and unrelenting injustices against members of the Black community have existed for hundreds of years and continue to exist all around us, including in our museums. We know we have work to do and that means being actively anti-racist — not passively non-racist.”

Clay was the inaugural appointee to her role, which she took on in 2018 and her message is that it’s not enough to “amplify” voices and messages, art institutions must take action. “We are looking at our staff and board, both overwhelmingly white, and actively examining our hiring and recruitment processes to promote greater diversity,” she said. “We recently held a town hall, which uncovered stark differences between staff of color and white staff.”

Clay also said that art does not exist outside struggle. That while it can be used for “constructive discourse, building empathy and creating community,” art also “can confront current issues and topics that aren’t neutral.”

Adding: “What appears like radical action is exactly what museums need to pursue to prove that they have a valuable role to play in this national discourse.”

Top image: Fall, from the series Four Seasons, 2006, by Wendy Red Star.