POWHATAN – Local law enforcement officials are investigating a threatening letter that was mailed to a Powhatan resident who displayed a Black Lives Matter yard flag.
The Powhatan County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by a Powhatan County resident who had received a very concerning letter in the mail on Monday, Oct. 12, according to a release from Jeff Searfoss, chief deputy. After speaking with a deputy by phone, the resident was advised that it would be best if he responded to the residence to investigate further, which he did.
Upon arrival the deputy viewed the letter, which was postmarked out of Richmond and had a return address of the Communist Party of America in New York, Searfoss said. The envelope was addressed to “Our loyal supporters.”
The letter referenced the Black Lives Matter flag in the citizen's yard as being a “communist terrorist organization” affiliated with organizations with the goal of violent “white Christian genocide.” The letter warned that white Christians have the “lawful right of lethal self defense” and stated that they should “Leave the country now!”
The sheriff's office and the Powhatan Commonwealth's Attorney's Office are working together to “investigate this cowardly act of intimidation” and is attempting to determine the letter’s origin, according to the press release. The matter is also being forwarded to the U.S. Postal Inspector for its review and further investigation.
Sheriff Brad Nunnally said he finds the letter highly offense and won’t “tolerate anybody being intimidated because of their beliefs or which sign they put in their yard.”
“Our office is not going to tolerate that, and, when applicable, we will prosecute,” he said.
He admitted the case faces challenges, including finding the suspect who mailed the letter in Richmond and determining his or her intent with sending the letter.
Depending on how the investigation proceeds, the letter writer could be charged with Va Code Section 18.2-60, a Class 6 Felony that encompasses threats of death or bodily injury to a person, said Rob Cerullo, deputy commonwealth’s attorney.
If any Powhatan County resident has received a similar letter or experienced any other forms of intimidation they are highly encouraged to contact Powhatan Sheriff's Office Lt. Marilyn Durham at 804-598-5656.
The sheriff’s office wishes “to make it clear to anyone having sent or considering sending any letters of intimidation or harassment to any citizen because of their beliefs that this behavior is abhorrent and will not be tolerated,” according to the release.