Police investigating racist letters sent to Gwinnett businesses

Credit: cherylsb63/Getty Images

Credit: cherylsb63/Getty Images

Snellville police are investigating letters containing racial slurs that were sent to three businesses, two of which are black-owned.

The typed letters were sent to Gravity Trampoline Park, Burn Boot Camp Snellville and a barbershop, all in the same Main Street retail complex, according to Snellville Detective Jeff Manley. Manley did not name the barbershop. The same letter was also sent to the Snellville city planning department and at least one of the businesses’ landlords, said Lawrence Williams II. Williams, who is black, owns Gravity Trampoline Park with his father.

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Williams first learned of the letters two weeks ago; he had not yet opened the copy sent to him when the Snellville Police Department contacted him about it. The letter uses racial slurs and racist language and says that the businesses do not belong in Snellville, according to Williams.

“My first initial emotion was anger, and then feeling very disappointed,” Williams said. “We want to serve people. We have hearts of service ... and there are still some people who don’t want us here because of our skin color.”

The letters did not contain any explicit threats, but they have been referred to a Snellville Police Department investigator, Manley said. It’s not clear who sent them, but it appears all three businesses received the same letter.

It is also unclear whether the letters were mailed or placed in mailboxes. If they were sent through the U.S. Postal Service, the case may also fall under federal jurisdiction.

Williams said he became concerned for the safety of his employees and customers when he read the letter. Snellville police have been regularly patrolling the complex since the letters were discovered, Williams said.

“You don’t know what follows a letter like that, with that tone,” Williams said.

Williams said he’s pleased with the city’s response to the letters, which included a meeting with Mayor Barbara Bender. It was important to Williams that Bender publicly denounce the letters, and she did so in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

"Sentiments like those expressed in these letters have no place in our community,” Bender said. “The City of Snellville strongly condemns these actions. The City and the Snellville Police Department take these actions seriously. Snellville is, and will continue to be, a welcoming place for all those who live and do business here. We stand in support and appreciation of all of our business owners and all those who work to make Snellville a better community."

The investigation into the letters is ongoing.

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