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Schools alarmed by racist mailing

SNOQUALMIE — One of the themes that staff at Snoqualmie

Elementary tries to teach their students is respect — respect for

themselves and respect for others. But when Principal Lisa Sackett opened a

disturbing letter last week, she didn't feel honored at all.

"At first I was surprised and shocked and then we found it

disgusting," she said of the four-page racist hate mail that was addressed to

Les Jones, Sackett's predecessor.

North Bend Elementary Principal Linda Sirianni also received a

similar packet last Wednesday, March 15.

"I was immobilized by the violence of that kind of stuff," said

Dr. Rich McCullough, superintendent of the Snoqualmie Valley School

District. "It was a sobering reminder that

there are people who feel that way."

Included in the mailing was an ad for a monthly publication that

touts itself as being "The Most Racist Newspaper on Earth," various pictures

of swastikas, racist slogans and negative stereotypical sketches of ethnic

minorities.

A business card was also found in each of the envelopes — North

Bend Elementary received a membership card for a mother's support group

out of Lynnwood and Snoqualmie Elementary got a card from a

business in Issaquah.

"It was weird because it looked like the business card was picked

up in a parking lot," Sackett said. "It looked old and dirty and we

thought the whole thing seemed weird."

The Snoqualmie Police Department handed the materials over to

officials in the postal service who will conduct an investigation on

whether the anonymous sender violated any regulations.

"There was no crime at the city level," said Capt. Jim Schaffer of

the Snoqualmie Police Department. "Inappropriate? Absolutely. Illegal?

Not unless it violates a federal postal law."

McCullough said that this is the first time the district has been the

target of racist hate mail since he joined the district 12 years ago and it

appears that the racist mailing will probably be a one-time event. The sender's

mistake of listing Les Jones on Snoqualmie Elementary's

handwritten label shows that the group has an old mailing list.

"There's nothing to indicate excessive concern," Schaffer said. "It was

a neo-Nazi white supremacist literature that wasn't targeted at anybody or

any group in the school."

It was odd to be sent to the elementary school principal, but we have

no indication what the actual purpose of it was," he added.

Detective Mike Brown with the King County Sheriff's Office

agreed that it was probably a random mailing and said it was very difficult to

uncover the source.

"The King County Sheriff's Office and the sheriff himself take

these things very seriously. Unfortunately, it's very hard to track an individual

or group, but this is something that isn't taken lightly," Brown said.

Jonn Lunsford of the Northwest Coalition for Human Dignity, a

non-profit organization that monitors racist crimes, said there are several

known organizations in the state that actively send out racist materials.

He suggests that the district should communicate with the staff,

administrators and parents to determine if there are other forms of racial

discrimination in the schools that might hinder a positive learning

environment. And more importantly, he said, don't ignore the message.

"They should take it seriously and not dismiss it as a prank,"

Lunsford said. "If it were drugs, obviously

you wouldn't ignore a pusher who comes to school, so why would you ignore

a person peddling hate?"

The Snoqualmie Valley School District is not taking this

incident lightly either. They have already contacted the police and organizations

that deal with victims of hate crimes, McCullough said.

"We will be vigilant and alert if there are any patterns of

incoming things like this," he said.

"Someone outside of the community is sending poison and dangerous stuff into

our community."

"The intent [of the letter] was to stimulate hatred, but what it does

is unite people."

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